John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941)
The Artist's Studio: Lady Hazel Lavery with her Daughter Alice and Stepdaughter Eileen, 1909-1913
Oil on canvas, 344 x 274 cm
Born in Belfast and trained in Glasgow, London and Paris, John Lavery settled in London, where he established himself as a celebrated portraitist. His sitters included leading figures of international society, as well as British royalty. This impressively large portrait depicts the artist's wife Hazel, her daughter Alice from her first marriage, and his daughter, Eileen.
The painting was begun in his London studio in 1909. Hazel Lavery is fashionably dressed in a feathered turban and richly coloured silk and satin Paisley coat. Alice is seated in a basket chair, while Eileen leans gracefully across the grand piano. The family dog, Rodney Stone, lies at the feet of the two girls. In the background Aisha, their maid, is seen entering the room bearing a salver of fruits. Also visible in the portrait is the artist himself. Reflected in a mirror, his palette and brush clearly visible, Lavery paints himself studying the group of figures he is portraying.
The painting is striking for its sense of immence space, the modelling of the figures in light and shade, the fluid handling of paint and its eye-catching colourful passages.
The composition is based on Las Meninas by Velasquez, a painter much admired by Lavery. The grouping of the figures in the foreground, the reflection of the artist in the distant mirror, the position of the dog and, above all, the scale of the interior, recall Velasquez's famous painting of 1656.
Researching John Lavery at the National Gallery of Ireland