Sir Matthew Smith

The Young Actress

1943

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 756 x 635 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with funds provided by the Knapping Fund 1943
Reference
N05440

Display caption

The actress is the artist's niece; nearly all Smith's portraits were of friends and family. Another version of the subject is at the Barbican Art Gallery, but he did not paint this sitter again.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N05440 THE YOUNG ACTRESS 1943

Inscr. ‘MS’ b.r. and, on back, ‘MS 43 C. Gdns.’
Canvas, 29 3/4×25 (75·75×63·5).
Purchased from Arthur Tooth & Sons (Knapping Fund) 1943.
Repr: Hendy, 1944, pl.20; Rothenstein, 1962, n.p.

This is a portrait of the artist's niece Phoebe Noël Smith (Mrs John Stewart), painted just before or soon after her twenty-first birthday in 1943 at the artist's studio in Clarendon Gardens, W.9. The sitter began her dramatic training at the Westminster Theatre School but shortly after the outbreak of war joined the W.R.N.S. She later appeared in A. P. Herbert's play Big Ben. She gave up her acting career, emigrating to Canada in 1952 and becoming Head Librarian of the Children's Library, Montreal (information from A. Noël Smith, 16 July 1958).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II