Philip Wilson Steer

Girl in a Blue Dress

c.1891

Medium
Oil paint on wood
Dimensions
Support: 273 x 210 mm
frame: 460 x 391 x 45 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941
Reference
N05295

Display caption

Steer often painted children, showing them either in domestic interiors or playing outdoors on the beach at Walberswick in Suffolk.

This girl admiring the pages of a picture book is Rose Pettigrew, who modelled for Steer for eight years. She wrote: ‘I love posing for Philip; and first of all posed for little money as I thought he was very poor, and child as I was, wanted to help him’. Her vulnerable position as a young girl, however, is borne out by hard wooden chair she sits on and her sparse surroundings.

Gallery label, July 2004

Catalogue entry

N05295 GIRL IN A BLUE DRESS c. 1891

Inscr. ‘P. W. Steer’ t.l.
Oil on panel, 10 3/4×8 1/4 (27×21).
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941.
Coll: Sir Hugh Walpole by 1937.
Exh: Goupil Gallery, April–May 1909 (2), as ‘“Blue Dress” - sketch’ (apparently not sold); Hugh Walpole's Collection, French Gallery, May–June 1937 (49), as ‘The Blue Dress’.
Lit: MacColl, 1945, pp.46, 223 (where described as of unknown date).

The sitter in this painting bears a close resemblance in both dress and appearance to Miss Rose Pettigrew, whose portrait Steer painted in 1891 (repr. MacColl, op. cit., pl.17b), and who, with her sister, had sat to several Victorian painters, including Millais. The portrait of Miss Pettigrew, ‘Girl on a Sofa’, belonged in 1945 to Mrs George Burrell, and is described by MacColl as showing a girl in a blue dress. It seems not unreasonable to suppose that N05295 is of about the same date (1891) as this.

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

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