Souvenir of an "International Ball" (Portrait of Miss Kathleen Bruce)

Souvenir of an "International Ball" (Portrait of Miss Kathleen Bruce)

1907

Charles Hasslewood Shannon

(British, 1863-1937)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 116.8 x 87.2 cm (46 x 34 5/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1979.16

Description

The subject for this portrait is Miss Kathleen Bruce, later Lady Scott, the widow of Antarctic explorer Sir Robert F. Scott. However, as the picture's original title underlines (Souvenir of an "International Ball"), the identity of the sitter is less important than her treatment as a decorous object. Highlighting the woman in front of a shadowed screen decorated with foliage, Shannon positioned her to ensure her hoop skirt billowed out and filled the large chair. The result is a "bouquet" of fabrics and bows which bursts forth from the real bouquet of flowers nestled upon the woman's lap.

Shannon's debt to the Venetian Renaissance painter Titian (about 1489-1576) is evident in the loose brushwork he used to represent realistically the soft material of the dress and to heighten the sense of ornamentation. Although aware of contemporary art movements, he instead preferred to follow the art of previous masters like Titian. He shared this love of older tradition with his living and working partner, Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), as well as with Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), a French-born artist who was an important teacher in Britain.

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