This portrait of the artist's wife Sarah (born 1900) is one of a long series of portraits of Mrs Roberts executed between 1920 and 1980. Mrs Roberts was the sister of the artist Jacob Kramer. Roberts sometimes chose different guises for his wife such as a gipsy or, as in this work, an Algerian. Roberts thought that Sarah looked Algerian, although neither had ever visited Algeria. When Sarah asked her husband if he got bored with painting her year after year, Roberts replied that faces changed all the time and that, as a subject, there was always enough interest in the face alone.
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