signed and dated l.r.: FM 79; inscribed on reverse: 'Finishing Touches' / Florence Martin / 66 St George's Sq
Probably London, Royal Academy, 1879, no. 399 as The Art Student
This delightful subject shows the exotic interior of an artist's studio, piled with draperies and props and with a portfolio stand and drawings littered about and pinned to the walls. A young boy, dressed in velvet knickerbockers and a lace collar, audaciously takes a brush and mahl-stick to apply a dab of paint to a work which stands in its frame on a studio easel. The angle at which the painting in question is shown is too oblique to allow the subject to be seen. It seems likely, however, that it is in fact a portrait of the child, who appears to be dressed in 'Van Dyck' style to sit to the absent artist. The fact that the work is displayed in its frame indicates that it is finished, and awaits the inspection of the commissioner or buyer.
It seems likely that the painting is identical with Florence Martin's Royal Academy exhibit The Art Student (although that particular work is not described in the Art Journal review of the 1879 exhibition, so this remains a supposition).
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