Half-length, three-quarter right side portrait of Ida Nettleship, first wife of the artist, as a gypsy. A young woman wearing a soft, brown dress, seated with a basket of fruit and flowers on her lap. She has a daisy at her right wrist in her lap, and holds up another daisy in her left hand. Her face is turned to the front, and is brightly lit in contrast to the dark plain background.
Merikli 1902 Augustus Edwin John 1878-1961 Oil on canvas This is a portrait of Augustus John’s wife Ida. Obsessed by the Gypsy way of life, John has depicted her as a Gypsy. While teaching in Liverpool in 1901-04, John became great friends with Librarian John Sampson, a renowned Romany scholar. They travelled through Wales together on a pony cart. Later Sampson published The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales – and defined the word Merikli as ‘ornament worn round the neck, gem, bead, especially coral’. This picture was Augustus John’s first critical success. It was voted the New English Art Club’s ‘picture of the year’ in 1902. Over time, as the layers of paint have dried out, cracks have emerged that make it hard to imagine the painting as fresh as it seemed at the time. Gift of Mr Charles Lambert Rutherston 1925.292
unframed: 76.2cm x 63.7cm
framed: 96.8cm x 84.7cm
Place of creation
Gift of Mr Charles Lambert Rutherston, 1925
© the Artist’s Estate. All Rights Reserved 2021/ Bridgeman Images