After the death of her husband, Zinaida Serebriakova was left alone with four children and an elderly mother to provide for. In late August 1924 she left them behind in the Soviet Union and went to Paris in the hope of selling some pictures and sending some money home. In Paris Serebriakova was miserable, she knew very few people, missed her family dreadfully and lived a hand-to-mouth existence, moving from hotel to hotel. She found herself unable to work in these conditions and in spring 1925 moved to London in search of portrait commissions and spent a happy few months with her cousin, the artist Nadia Benois. This short break revitalised her flagging spirits and creativity and she returned to Paris with a renewed vigour.
The virtuoso pastel Girl with a Doll is a brilliant example of the very few portraits Serebriakova managed to complete in 1925. This bright, life-affirming work conceals the anguish which the artist felt about leaving her own children behind in Soviet Russia and is at heart a portrait of her own daughter.
We are grateful to Pavel Pavlinov for providing additional cataloguing information.