Description: Sophie Anderson (1823-1903) Windfalls signed 'S. Anderson' (lower right) oil on canvas 17 x 21 in. (43.2 x 53.3 cm.)
Artist or Maker: Sophie Anderson (1823-1903)
Exhibited: New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, The Edmund J. and Suzanne McCormick Collection, 1984, no. 2.
Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum, English Idylls: The Edmund J. and Suzanne McCormick Collection of Victorian Art, 1988, no. 2.
Provenance: Mrs John Nutting (formerly Lady Beatty).
with Christopher Wood, London.
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Windfalls can be considered as a rural counterpart to Anderson's most famous picture, No Walk Today, which was acquired by Sir David Scott in the 1920s and remains in the Scott collection today. The model is identical, and is depicted in the same reflective pose, with eyes downcast to the left. Whereas No Walk Today is a subtle study in the psychology of a privileged child, dressed in the latest fashionable accoutrements, but thwarted by the weather from running free outside, Windfalls revels in the dappled sunlight of its outdoor setting, celebrating the child's health and good fortune in being raised in such an idyllic rural spot. Such mood pieces of contemporary girlhood found a ready market amongst the Victorian picture-buying public. Millais, especially in his later work, was a noted practitioner, although Anderson's work pre-dates his.
Born in Paris, Anderson was the daughter of an eminent French architect and an English mother. Her childhood was spent in rural France broken only by a trip to England in 1832 and another to Paris in 1843. She was largely self-taught, as her intention to study under Charles Auguste Steuben (1788-1856) was prevented by his return to Russia on a commission to paint for the Cathedral of St Isaac. After the revolution of 1848, her family moved to America and here she painted portraits and met her husband, a little-known English artist, Walter Anderson. In 1854, the couple moved to England and she exhibited her first work, An American Market Basket. The following year she made her debut at the Royal Academy with Virgin and Child (no. 636). She exhibited a further 27 paintings at the Royal Academy, as well as showing at the Royal Society of British Artists, the Grosvenor Gallery, and elsewhere. During the 1870s the couple moved to Capri to preserve their health. They remained there for twenty years. In the late 1890s she moved back to England, living in Falmouth where she died in 1903. Her work entered many distinguished private collections, including that of Sir John Aird.
As Anderson rarely varied her style, dating her work is difficult. Owing to the age of the model in Windfalls and No Walk Today, this picture must share a comparable date with the latter's execution in 1856.