Miss Aimée de Burgh (Mrs Quartermaine)
Edward Arthur Walton RSA PRSW (1860–1922)
Oil on canvas
40 x 24 inches; 101.7 x 61 cm.
Exhibited: Glasgow, Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, 1904, no.7 (as Mrs Quartermaine)
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Commentary by Kenneth McConkey
With the expansion of portraiture in the eighteenth century, actors, musicians and literati became part of a new aristocracy based on wealth and celebrity. In Walton’s day, the internationally fêted Sarah Bernhardt would charge portraitists by the hour – recognizing that her face might help to make a young artist’s career. Even with this proviso, Bastien-Lepage’s portrait of the great tragedienne, an aesthetic delight in pearl greys and pinks, was only achieved amidst tantrums, evasions and unkept promises. No such subterfuge is likely to have featured in Walton’s sittings with a young actress who was yet to make her London debut. [Continued below]