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Henry Lamb RA, Henrietta Reading

Henrietta Reading, 1949

Henry Lamb RA (1883 - 1960)

RA Collection: Art

This is a portrait of the artist’s 17-year-old daughter, Henrietta. This painting was made as she was about to begin her studies at Somerville College, Oxford, one of the few colleges that accepted women at this time. She appears studious and focussed, totally absorbed in the book. The muted tones and her sober clothing suggest a seriousness of this young woman about to embark upon her university education.

Henrietta was the eldest child of Henry Lamb RA and the write Lady Pansy Pakenham. She grew up in an artistic household, the family home near Salisbury playing host to her mother’s literary circle that included Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman. Henrietta was exposed to literature and creativity from a young age and developed such a passion for reading that even her family commented on her tendency to disappear for hours on end to read anything she could get her hands on.

After studying at Oxford, Henrietta worked briefly for the magazine History Today before becoming a landscape gardener, beginning a long career working for Kensington and Chelsea borough council. She was influential in shaping the appearance of the borough, her many projects including landscaping the Kensington New Pool at Notting Hill and being a long-standing member of the committee responsible for Ladbroke Square Gardens, one of the largest private garden squares in London.

Henry Lamb painted many portraits of his immediate family, reflecting a close bond. He is best known as a portraitist and during World War Two worked full-time as an official war artist, producing many portraits of high-ranking officials and servicemen and -women alike.

Object details

Henrietta Reading
Henry Lamb RA (1883 - 1960)
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

508 mm x 610 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Henry Lamb RA accepted 1949
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