Sir John Lavery (1856-1941)
This work, most likely to have been painted whilst Lavery was still courting Hazel, is extraordinarily energetic and spontaneous, with short, choppy brushstrokes capturing not just Hazel but the moment itself...
Sir John Lavery was one of the most celebrated British Impressionist painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and this atmospheric depiction of the artist’s second wife, painted during their courtship, shows Lavery at his most sensitive and lyrical.
The subject of this work is Hazel Trudeau, who would later become Lavery’s second wife following their marriage in 1909. Hazel was the daughter of Chicago industrialist Edward Jenner Martyn, whom Lavery first met in 1903 in Brittany, just prior to her first marriage. Hazel’s husband died the following year and in 1909 she married Lavery and became one of his most frequent models. This work, which was most likely to have been painted between 1904 and 1906, whilst Lavery was still courting Hazel, is extraordinarily energetic and spontaneous, with short, choppy brushstrokes capturing not just Hazel but the moment itself.
In 1891, on the advice of his peers, Lavery set off to North Africa – a place that for many years had attracted artists in search of strong light, pure air and exotic subjects. Tangier was his destination of choice and the works he produced on this first of many visits were experimental and varied. One of the most significant was his large oil painting An Equestrian Lady, which shows a distinctly European lady sitting sidesaddle on a chestnut horse, in a composition not dissimilar to the present work. This ambitious foray into equestrian subject matter proved to be a huge success and Lavery soon became a renowned painter of horses.