EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON.
- Media: oil on canvas.
- Dimensions: 1312 x 1682 mm (2.32 m²).
- History: dated 1906-7; also known as ‘Miss Elizabeth Williamson on a pony’ and (Academy Notes for 1907) ‘Elizabeth Williamson at Wemmergill.’ Elizabeth was the great-granddaughter of Mrs. Charles Hunter of Hill House; American Art News 16 Apr 1910, “The current exhibition of the Women’s International Art Club at the Grafton galleries … [includes] the vigerous portrait of “Elizabeth Williamson at Wemmergill”; exhibited Manchester Art Gallery 1923; Royal Academy of Arts 1934; “presented [to the Tate] by F. Howard 1939.”
- Location: Tate.
Elizabeth Williamson was the great-granddaughter of Mrs. Charles Hunter, owner of the Villa Barbaro in Venice, friend of Henry James and Edith Wharton. Mrs. Hunter was a collector and philanthropist of the arts, and an intimate friend of Sargent who painted her. It was Sargent who introduced Mrs. Hunter to Mancini, and she commissioned him the portrait of her nephew Elisabeth. Elizabeth’s mother, Phyllis, was painted by Sargent in 1902. The painting is now kept at Tate’ (www.deartibus.it).
SKETCH FOR EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON.
- Media: oil on canvas.
- Dimensions: 390 x 530 mm (0.21 m²).
- History: 1906 (by association with above works); auctioned Keys, Aylsham, Norfolk, 29 Nov 2019, unsold; auctioned Keys, Aylesham, Norfolk; 26 Jun 2020, sold.
- Location: unknown.
PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON.
- Media: oil on canvas.
- Dimensions: 297 x 337 mm (0.12 m²), Mallham’s; 320 x 360 mm (0.12 m²), Tate.
- History: signed and dated 1906; auctioned 25 Oct 2001, W. H. Lane & Son, Penzance, “Portrait of a young blonde Girl / “Signed dated,” unsold; auctioned Mallham’s, Cheltenham, 21 Aug 2008, “ANNIE LOUISE SWYNNERTON … Portrait of a young girl with blonde hair wearing a polo neck jumper, signed and dated ‘Annie L Swynnerton 1906’ bas gauche [bottom left], oil on canvas, 13¼” x 11¾ [337 x 298 mm],” sold; owned by art historian and author, Susan Thompson (The Life and Works of Annie Louisa Swynnerton); ‘Presented [to the Tate] by Chris Thomson, in memory of Susan Thomson, 2013.’ [Assumed here to be the same work although sizes differ.]
- Location: Tate (detailed essay on the web page).
Portrait of Miss Elizabeth Williamson 1906 is a small signed portrait in oil on canvas, showing the head and shoulders of a young girl by Annie Louise Swynnerton. She wears a high-necked thick blue sweater painted with thick brushstrokes. Her blonde should-length hair is loose and her cheeks flushed. She turns to the viewer with an open, carefree smile. The blue of the jumper is picked out in the sitter’s pale blue eyes and the yellow of hair in her eyebrows and facial highlights. Despite this naturalism of this painting, the use of reds, yellows and the blues create a bright, decorative effect. The work is a lively study for the life-size equestrian portrait Miss Elizabeth Williamson on a Pony 1907 (Tate N05019), which was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1934, and was presented to Tate by Mrs F. Howard in 1939, six years after Swynnerton’s death. Prior to entering Tate’s collection, this study was owned by the art historian Susan Thomson, an expert on Swynnerton.
This painting exhibits Swynnerton’s luminous, bravura style characteristic of the avant-garde aestheticism and impressionism with which she was associated. It was most probably made from life. Such sketches were part of Swynnerton’s method for capturing portraits that were highly individualised in their features and lively in their expression. The sitter was the grand-daughter of Mrs Charles Hunter. Mrs Hunter owned the Villa Barbaro in Venice and was a collector and close friend of writers Henry James and Edith Wharton and artists such as Swynnerton and John Singer Sargent. Elizabeth’s mother, Phyliss, was one of the three women in The Misses Hunter painted by Sargent in 1902 (Tate N04180).
Annie Louisa Swynnerton (neé Robinson) became the first woman to be elected an associate of the Royal Academy for nearly 150 years (since Angelica Kaufmann in 1768). Swynnerton was an active feminist and suffragette (see Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866–1928, Abingdon 2002, pp.951–2). In 1876 she and fellow artist Susan Dacre founded the Manchester Society of Women Painters. She contributed to the British aesthetic and impressionist movements, exhibiting at the avant-garde Grosvenor Gallery in London as well as the Royal Academy. She associated with artists including George Frederic Watts, Edward Burne-Jones and Sargent, who donated Swynnerton’s Oreads exhibited 1907 to Tate in 1922 (Tate N03619). She also had success on the continent and lived in Rome between 1883 and 1910 with her husband, the sculptor Joseph Swynnerton … Carol Jacobi / September 2013.