Lot 18
  • 18

SIR JOHN LAVERY, R.A., R.H.A., R.S.A. | Girl in a Fur Wrap

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.H.A., R.S.A.
  • Girl in a Fur Wrap
  • signed and dated l.l.: J Lavery 1886; signed and inscribed with the artist's Glasgow address on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 56 by 45.6cm., 22 by 18in.


MacMillan and Perrin Gallery, Toronto;
Christie's, London, 4 March 1983, lot 65;
Christie's, London, 10 May 2007, lot 113, where purchased by the present owner

Catalogue Note

While we now have much more detail concerning Lavery’s activities after his return from Paris to Paisley at the end of 1884, the identities of his models, save in one instance, remain obscure. In that case, Bella Cullen, the daughter of one of his Irish neighbours, appears to have had black, or dark brown hair, not the rich auburn we see in the present picture. His only securely identifiable sandy-haired model of 1886, seems to have been Eva, the fifteen-year-old daughter of his patron, James Fulton (Paisley Museum and Art Galleries). It is however, unlikely that Girl in a Fur Wrap, along with Portrait of a Young Woman (1886, 77.5 x 64.2, Private Collection), both represent Eva – even though both appear to be wearing the same evening dress.

With its cream and pale blue satin trimmings and voile fichu, the girl’s dress is modelled on a Worth design, the original of which was worn by Lady Colin Campbell in Whistler's Harmony in White and Ivory, (unlocated, probably destroyed), shown at the Society of British Artists winter exhibition in 1886. The ensemble nevertheless clarifies the aesthetic context of the present work. At the time it was painted one widely reproduced profile portrait – that of Sarah Bernhardt by Lavery’s mentor, Jules Bastien-Lepage – stood above all others. A dramatic white-on-white rendition of the great tragedienne, it conformed to the current emphasis on colour harmony found in Lavery’s growing enthusiasm for Whistler. During that eventful year, when he was using a studio-cottage at the Glen, Fulton’s Paisley estate, as well as his base in Glasgow, Lavery was aware of the great importance of the American artist for young painters of his generation. Within a few months he had met the combative American in London and would go on to exhibit at the British Artists’ society in the following spring. While the incidentals of fashion would change in time, pictorial harmony was, and would remain, a primary characteristic of the young painter’s approach. Girl in a Fur Wrap supplies evidence of both.  

Professor Kenneth McConkey