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Sir George Clausen RA, Portrait of Agnes Mary Webster

Portrait of Agnes Mary Webster, 1882

Sir George Clausen RA (1852 - 1944)

RA Collection: Art

Clausen painted this portrait of his young wife, Agnes Mary Webster soon after their arrival from London in the village of Childwick Green in rural Hertfordshire. Agnes was the sister of Clausen's friend, Alfred George Webster whom he had met at the South Kensington Art Training Schools. The pair had married in 1881. Agnes wears a white dress with a high collar against which a red coral necklace makes a striking contrast. She sits facing left and looks out at the spectator.

A self-portrait of the artist, painted at the same date, forms a pendant to this work. In the self-portrait, Clausen (holding a paint brush aloft), is turned towards the right and thus, it is imagined, stands facing his new wife. The portraits share the same dark grey/brown background with the paint thinly applied. The highly-textured, rough impasto technique used to paint the white dress can be compared with works like Peasant Girl carrying a Jar (1882; Victoria and Albert Museum) which show Clausen's new interest at this date in the work of the French naturalist painter, Jules Bastien-Lepage.

It is possible that Clausen painted the portraits to celebrate the occasion of his marriage - Agnes Mary's white dress certainly hints at this. However, they probably have a wider significance that can be related to the new phase in Clausen's career, where he is establishing himself as a serious artist outside of the London scene.

Object details

Portrait of Agnes Mary Webster
Sir George Clausen RA (1852 - 1944)
Object type
Oil on canvas

314 mm x 214 mm x 18 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by A.G. Clausen 1964

Associated works of art

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