A Large Provincial Naïve School Oil on Canvas Portrait of Three Children c.1820-35

Origin: English
Period: Regency/William IV
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1820-35
The Canvas: 36” x 30.75”
In Frame: 40.5” x 34.5”

Of pleasing proportions, the provincial oil on canvas portrait of three children, two girls and one boy, painted in the naïve style, and housed in a gilded frame, the central figure of the boy clutching a book and wearing a brown coat, the girl wearing a pink dress and holding a flower, looking out toward the viewer, and the third child, another girl, the youngest, seated on a barley twist leg chair, the composition surviving from the first quarter of nineteenth century England.

The picture is in good overall condition and does not suffer from any major losses or restoration showing an even amount of craquelure to its surface. There are a few very minor areas of flaked loss and it remains un-cleaned by us. The painting is apparently unsigned. The frame is probably later, and more likely late nineteenth century and is of good enough quality to keep associated with the picture, its style being in keeping. A clean may bring out more of the colour in the picture but we prefer to leave these decisions to the eventual buyer.
The depiction of these children seems to hinge on the elder daughter. We see her and she sees us; for whatever else is going on in this haunting picture, with its detail to the period cloths with lace and silks, and the furniture, with the seventeenth century barley twist chair, what strikes first and foremost is this potent relationship between the eldest girl in the painting and the viewer outside. We look at her and she looks back, apparently conscious of our looking. The whole picture seems to stage that connection giving the picture an open-ended performance. Although the other girl is also looking out from the canvas her gaze does not seem to arrest us.

The boy is melancholy and appears to be deep in thought over whatever it is he is reading, tinged with sadness, almost. He is however the central figure and the largest and the two girls are being affectionate to him, with the hands both wrapped around him. Although the picture is haunting it retains a nice warmth between the children with the affection shown and the faces to each child are generally warm. With the composition being in the naïve manner almost certainly means it would have been painted away from the larger cities at the time.

Hauntingly beautiful.