This bold compositional study can be dated to the early years of McEvoy’s career when he was obsessively studying the work of the Italian and Dutch Old Masters.

McEvoy had always been fascinated by the work of great artists of the past and one of his earliest artistic awakenings was when Whistler, a close family friend, took him to Hampton Court to see the work of Tintoretto. Following his tutorage at the Slade School of Fine Art, McEvoy began an intense period of study at the National Gallery in London, where he zealously pored over the work of great artists such as Titian and Rembrandt in an attempt to understand and replicate their working methods. In fact, McEvoy became so entranced by the work of Titian that he spent almost two years copying his iconic work Noli me Tangere. McEvoy’s copy is highly accomplished and is one of his early masterpieces.

The purpose of the present...

Read more

This bold compositional study can be dated to the early years of McEvoy’s career when he was obsessively studying the work of the Italian and Dutch Old Masters.

McEvoy had always been fascinated by the work of great artists of the past and one of his earliest artistic awakenings was when Whistler, a close family friend, took him to Hampton Court to see the work of Tintoretto. Following his tutorage at the Slade School of Fine Art, McEvoy began an intense period of study at the National Gallery in London, where he zealously pored over the work of great artists such as Titian and Rembrandt in an attempt to understand and replicate their working methods. In fact, McEvoy became so entranced by the work of Titian that he spent almost two years copying his iconic work Noli me Tangere. McEvoy’s copy is highly accomplished and is one of his early masterpieces.

The purpose of the present work is not known. The composition may have been influenced by an existing work in a public or private collection, or perhaps it was conceived by McEvoy in preparation for a larger work which never materialised. Either way, it sheds a fascinating light on McEvoy’s early influences and reveals his eagerness to find a style of painting that acknowledged the past whilst looking ahead to the future.

Biography


Ambrose McEvoy demonstrated his exceptional artistic abilities from a young age. Encouraged by his father, Captain Charles Ambrose McEvoy, and inspired by his father’s great friend, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, McEvoy enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art at the age of sixteen.[1] He studied at the Slade between 1893 and 1898 and afterwards rented a small flat in Danvers Street, Chelsea, where he lived and worked.

McEvoy soon established himself as a gifted genre painter; he explored rolling landscapes and intimate interior scenes whilst attracting attention from wealthy patrons and collectors. During the mid-1910s, McEvoy ventured increasingly towards portraiture and the demand for his portraits rose concurrently.

In 1915 he exhibited his famous work Madame at the National Portrait Society and the following year he was commissioned to paint portraits of several prominent society figures including Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough and Maude Baring. These high-profile commissions gained McEvoy considerable recognition and firmly established his position as a fashionable portrait painter.

However, as with many artists, his career was interrupted by the First World War and in 1918 he was attached to the Royal Naval division as a war artist and posted to the Western Front and the North Sea.[2] Whilst there, McEvoy painted a number of portraits of military commanders, many of which are now in the collection at the Imperial War Museum.

In the years following the First World War, McEvoy’s career and reputation grew from strength to strength and he was soon heralded as one of the most successful and fashionable English society portrait painters of his day. His innovative style and florid methods endeared an emerging generation of young, wealthy and liberal-minded patrons. His famed depictions of human character and beauty, particularly of women, became sought after and he maintained an illustrious list of clients spread between the United Kingdom and America, where he was represented for a period by the most celebrated international art dealer of the day, Lord Duveen.[3]

However, this youthful success was to take its toll on McEvoy and he died in 1927, aged forty-nine. Critics writing shortly after his death were in little doubt as to the significance of his work; ‘the most refined aspect of early twentieth century society will live on in his work, and that alone ensures his position in history’.[4]

To this day, he has become famed for his depiction of women. In his obituary in The Times he was praised for his ability to paint female subjects in a manner that was both visually appealing, but also bespoke the profundity of his ‘thoughts about human beauty, particularly feminine beauty’.[5]

[1] E. A. Akers-Douglas, (ed.) L. Hendra, Divine People: The Art & Life of Ambrose McEvoy, (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2019) p.28.

[2] Akers-Douglas, (ed.) Hendra, Divine People, p.24.

[3] Akers-Douglas, (ed.) Hendra, Divine People, p.176.

[4] “Ambrose McEvoy”, Country Life, vol. 13, issue 1619, 28th January 1928, p. 106.

[5] "Mr. Ambrose McEvoy." The Times (London), 5th January 1927, p. 12.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Receive information about exhibitions, news & events.

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.
Close

Basket

No items found
Close

Your saved list

This list allows you to enquire about a group of works.
No items found
Close
Mailing list signup

Get exclusive updates from Philip Mould Gallery

Close

Sign up for updates

Artwork enquiry

Receive newsletters

In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.

Close
Search
Close
Close
500 Years of British Art