Since the rediscovery of this artwork’s original title and the emergence of an old family photo-album, this portrait has been placed in a fascinating new context. It was painted by Augustus Edwin John in 1937 whilst he was visiting Jamaica (fig. 1). This photograph (fig. 2) shows him posing with the finished work, before the opening of his solo exhibition at Arthur Tooth & Sons in 1938.
Whilst in Jamaica, John and his family took photographs of their trip and pasted them into an album, which has recently re-surfaced. In the centre of the album is a photograph of the two sitters in the portrait. The two women are dressed in the same clothing as the portrait and wear similar
expressions on their faces (fig. 3).
A torn label on the reverse of the frame indicates that it was catalogued as ‘No. 12’ in the Arthur Tooth & Sons’ exhibition. In the exhibition catalogue, ‘No. 12’ corresponds to a painting titled ‘The Sisters’, a relation which seems plausible given the closes of the two women in the photograph.