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William Dring RA, Melissa

Melissa, ca. 1955

William Dring RA (1904 - 1990)

RA Collection: Art

This three-quarter-length portrait shows the artist's daughter Melissa, aged about 11. Although Dring produced a handful of paintings of friends and family like this one, he mainly worked on commissions of notable public figures, including portraits of members of the Royal Family and of politicans.

This work demonstrates Dring's characteristically perceptive representation of his sitters, painting in a naturalist style that offers an insight into the personality of the subject. Here, the intensity of his young daughter's gaze, a slight smile playing on her lips, and her tidy appearance imply a maturity beyond her years. The plain background is also a common feature of Dring's work from this period, the deep shadow cast by the figure revealing his realist tendencies.

Dring painted another portrait of Melissa in the year before his death. This later work (now in the Beercroft Art Gallery, Southend-on-Sea) shows his daughter with the same half-smile and confident eye-contact, reinforcing the idea of the sitter's self-assurity and thoughtfulness, carried into adulthood.

Dring's daughter Melissa is herself a portrait-painter and forensic artist, and studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1963 to 1966. She exhibits annually at the Mall Galleries and has given lectures at police training academies for forensic artists.

Object details

William Dring RA (1904 - 1990)
ca. 1955
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

1077 mm x 527 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by William Dring RA accepted 1955
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