Portrait of Dorelia McNeill, (later to become Mrs Augustus John), standing in a plain wallpapered interior before a table, her right hand gripping the back of a wooden chair at her side. She wears a simple long-sleeved dress of a pale fabric with a dark check It has a round collar, small buttons to the waist, and a dark waist tie.Two large, slightly dog-eared books sit on the table edge. The title of top volume is visibly 'La Russie'. She holds a third book loosely in her left hand at her side. A black garment lies on the table top next to the books. The warm light, falling from the right, casts a large shadow against the wall behind her.
The Student 1903 Gwen John 1876 - 1939 Oil on canvas In 1903 the artist and her friend, Dorothy McNeill, who was a typist from a very conventional background and her brother’s lover whom he nicknamed Dorelia, decided to make a walking trip through France to Rome. Sleeping in haystacks and drawing for their supper, they spent the winter in two bare rooms in Toulouse. Whilst there, John made three portraits of Dorelia. John has used the ‘old master’ technique of meticulously building up the paint in layers. This seems to add to the intensity of the final image of an independent young woman with her own thoughts. It contrasts with later images of Dorelia by Augustus John, who painted her as gypsy, goddess and earth mother. Charles Lambert Rutherston gift 1925.295
Canvas: 56.1cm x 33.1cm
Frame: 65.6cm x 43.2cm
Place of creation
[BG] Manchester Art Gallery - Balcony Gallery
Gift of Mr Charles Lambert Rutherston, 1925
© Manchester Art Gallery