Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mothers and Daughters and Lace

My paintings for the BP Travel Award are inspired by the many portraits of women from the early 17th century as painted by Larkin, Gheeraerts and Verspronck and many others. They painted wealthy upper class women. Although their wealth gave us the opportunity to see their faces and their dress, they were women who must have shared many things with modern-day women: they were mothers, daughters, wives and grandmothers. They loved fashion and beautiful things or perhaps not so much. They had to battle the challenges from life as a wife or a mother and a head of a household.They were hugely restricted in their freedom but no doubt found ways to exercise some power over their own lives. They were painted in elaborate clothes, often richly decorated with lace. The lace would have been made by many more women of whom we do not have portraits. They were invisible women who were also mothers, wives and daughters. The incredible refinement and beauty in the lace is something we cannot reproduce nowadays and will one day be lost forever, when the lace has disintegrated into dust. All we then have are the paintings of it.
(from my upcoming catalogue)

William Larkin, Lady Mary Radclyffe, 1610-13
Denver Art Museum

Lace detail of one of my portraits, around 5 inches wide.
Oil on linen.

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