Walter Frederick Osborne (1859-1903)
Portrait of Mrs Mary Louise (May) Gwynn (d.1941), c.1903
Pastel on paper, 43 x 31 cm (approx.)
Signed, upper right: WALTER OSBORNE
Bequeathed, Rose Gayner, 2012
This large-scale head and shoulders portrait in pastel, of May Gwynn, wife of Stephen Gwynn (1864-1950) shows a smiling young woman in fashionable dress. The writer and critic, Stephen Gwynn, did not greatly admire Osborne’s portraits, and wrote, ‘he was a little too courteous in the fibre of him ever to set down his impression of any other human being with entire unreserve’.
Although the Gallery holds a wide-ranging collection of Osborne’s work, it does not have any pastel portraits. Osborne was a close friend of the Gwynn family and was godfather to May and Stephen’s second son, Aubrey Osborne Gwynn (1892-1983), who became a Jesuit priest and academic. The NGI holds a watercolour of Aubrey as a young child. An informal oil portrait of Stephen Gwynn reading in Osborne’s studio was acquired in 1994. This work will complement other portraits of the Gwynn family already in the collection.