Self-Portrait as a Costermonger
Oil on canvas.
16 x 13 inches
The family of the artist
Moments in Time, P.M. Gallery Ealing, 2011.
Carole and Peter Walker, Moments in Time (London: Worlds Publishing, 2011), cover, p8.
Madeline Green lived and worked for most of her life in Ealing, West London. The 1891 and 1901 censuses recorded her living there with her father Frederick, a prosperous butcher/farmer, and her mother Emily. From 1906 to 1911 she attended the RA Schools, to which she won a Scholarship; the 1911 census records her living in Tring with her older brother Thomas, her older sister Hilda (the next oldest sister Gladys was not there) and her younger sister Mabel. She kept a separate studio near to her parents house. Her father died in 1914 and she nursed her mother at home from 1922 and 1937.Between 1912 and 1943, she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, the Glasgow Institute, the Paris Salon and the Society of Women Artists, building a reputation for her subdued and enigmatic pictures. In 1915 her painting at the Royal Academy, The Model, attracted effusive praise from the critic of The Times: ‘It is a credit to the Academy that the painting should be so well hung’. The famous art dealer Joseph Duveen admired her work, and in 1927 acquired The Future for Manchester Art Gallery. Green explained her working method in a letter to the Gallery: the painting was ‘done in body colour underneath andglazed with pure colour and oil... . I always paint in this way – and although it takes a time I don’t think the same effect can be obtained otherwise’. Twenty years later in the year of her death, her self-portrait The Chenille Net, now in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, won the gold medal at the Paris Salon.
She and one of her sisters did war work during the Second World War and at its end they bought a cottage together at the village of Sloley, near Norwich. Madeline died in 1947 and it appears that the surviving sister sold some of Madeline’s pictures through a Norwich picture dealer, W Boswell and Son, in 1953.
Madeline Green’s paintings, in tones of tarnished silver and glassy white, are variations on themes of recurring figures that float in haunted, backlit spaces. A similar picture, exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1925, was described by the critic of the magazine Le Petit Parisienas ‘l’etrange interieur exsangue de Madeline Green’ (‘... strange pale interior...’).She usually painted herself, sometimes twice in the same picture. Here she is in one of her favourite outfits, the cap and clothes of a costermonger (a seller of vegetables in the London street markets).