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This tiny portrait study is of the wife of Lavery's friend the artist James Guthrie. They had married the year before. It may be a sketch for a larger portrait, or perhaps executed as a present. Lavery became a stylish portrait painter, especially of women, and like Whistler had a preference for dark colours and elongated proportions, but with a sharper sense of fashion. He began his career in Glasgow, where with Guthrie he belonged to a group of artists known as the 'Glasgow Boys'. They followed a French interest in painting out of doors. Lavery often began a new subject with a very small study, painted directly in front of his model.

September 2004