Description: Study of a girl reading
signed and inscribed 'Study of a girl reading Val Prinsep, Holland Park Road/London/Sold' (on a label on the reverse of the frame)
oil on panel
34 3/4 x 18 1/2 in. (88.3 x 46.9 cm.)
Artist or Maker: Valentine Cameron Prinsep, R.A. (1838 - 1904)
Provenance: with Agnew's, Manchester.
Notes: This elegant portrait of a girl reading is remarkable for its simplicity and for the striking colour scheme. The rich blue of the panelled walls reminds us of Val Prinsep's status as one of the legendary Holland Park Circle, who cultivated aesthetic interiors in their spacious villas. Prinsep's work is often theatrical and occasionally garish; here the light filtering in from an unseen source lends the composition an almost Dutch quietitude.
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Valentine Cameron Prinsep was born in Calcutta, the son of Indian civil servant Thoby Prinsep and Sara Pattle - one of the infamous Pattle sisters (his aunt was Julia Margaret-Cameron). Valentine's parents returned to England in 1843 and in 1851 set up home in Holland Park where they entertained prominent figures from the worlds of art, literature and politics for over 51 years.
Prinsep's artistic influences were understandably eclectic. Initially inspired by family friend G.F. Watts, whose admiration of the Old Masters Prinsep alike inherited; he also came under the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism, before exploring the Venetian mood pervading art of the 1870s and the neo-classicism perpetrated by Leighton and his followers.
Prinsep's standing was great in both artistic and social circles. He was gregarious and popular. Famously, he became the model for Taffy in Trilby after becoming acquainted with George Du Maurier whilst training under Charles Gleyre in Paris. His marriage to Florence Leyland made him very rich. He was diverse in his talents: publishing an account of a visit to India Imperial India: an artist's journal (1879) and two plays and two novels.
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