Her Idol

Sir William Quiller Orchardson R.A., 1832 - 1910

Her Idol

Sir William Quiller Orchardson R.A. 1832 - 1910


A domestic interior in an elegant middle-class Victorian home. In the centre of a large wood-panelled room a young mother and daughter sit together on a yellow daybed. The mother sits at one end, to the right, in profile, in a plain black dress gazing down at her daughter, her hand resting in her lap, her fair hair pinned up on her head. At the other end of the bed sits the little girl in a white dress, absorbed with playing at motherhood with her doll, which she holds with both hands in front of her. A jewellery box lies on the floor before her, its contents scattered on the floor. Behind the daybed is a tall black screen, decorated with flower motifs, a chair with a tall back in front of it. In the background, various pictures are hung on the walls, an open door on the left, a fireplace on the right.

Display Label

Gallery text panel Life and Landscape High-Victorian Social and Rural Subjects The Pre-Raphaelite interest in modern life was paralleled by a more general demand for contemporary subjects. The Victorians' fascination with their growing world of new social types and changing patterns of behaviour is particularly echoed in their love of crowd scenes. Some artists tried to highlight the darker side of society by focusing on the plight of the less well off. Yet representations of the working class and unemployed are usually idealised or softened by sentimental treatment. The wealthier classes provided more popular themes in art: high society is often both celebrated and analysed in paintings of domestic interiors and social engagements. Depictions of the city and industrial activity are rare. In an age of urban degradation and mass poverty collectors sought escapism more than social reflection, which gave rise to an unparalleled market for landscapes. Typically extreme in evoking serenity or bleakness, their appeal often revolves around open-ended narratives and the presence or suggestion of human activity.

Object Name

Her Idol

Date Created

1869 (circa)


Frame: 115cm x 135.4cm
Canvas: 75.2cm x 95.9cm

accession number


Place of creation





Oil Paint on canvas


© Manchester Art Gallery

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