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Guilhermina Suggia Was Portuguese, but lived in London from 1914. She was a well-known musician, particularly because a female cello soloist was then a rarity. The portrait was begun for the newspaper proprietor Edward Hudson, who had given Suggia the Montagnana cello that she plays. However the commission lapsed, and John continued the painting for himself. He started again twice, each time choosing a dress of a different colour, a larger canvas and a pose in more extreme profile.
This has always been thought among the best of John's portraits, for its convincing scale, the accord between design and colour, and its finish.

September 2004