The Green Dress

Walter Greaves, 1846-1930


Oil on canvas

Support: 1930 × 914 mm

Collection: Tate, accession no. N04599

Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest, 1931

According to the display caption, Greaves "painted this portrait of one of his sisters as a companion to his similar full length portrait of another sister. With its use of light and shade, and the attention to detail of the elaborate dress, it is more conventional than Whistler's portraits. The unusual dress is a Victorian revival of Elizabethan fashion." Here is a particularly striking example, then, of revivalism at work in art. Of course, the Victorians were fond of dressing up for costume balls, amateur theatricals and tableaux, and it is unlikely that this dress, with its quilted material, ruff, train, and contrasting shoulder and sleeve embellishments, would have been worn on other occasions. The pose too seems theatrical. — Jacqueline Banerjee

Photograph and caption material courtesy of Tate, London, which kindly allows the image to be reproduced under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) Licence.