Watercolour; inscribed verso 'Helen Thornycroft/ 21 Wilton Place/SW/ [the sitter's address] by Miss Martineau'
14 x 9.75 inches
Helen Thornycroft grew up in a family of sculptors (her mother too), and enrolled as a painter at the Academy schools in the the wake of Martineau, who was six years her senior and one of the first women admitted there in 1862. Martineau exhibited a number of unidentified ‘Heads’ at the Dudley Gallery and at Suffolk Street in the 1860s and ‘70s, the first of which was at the Dudley in 1868 when Thornycroft would have been 26; it is possible that it was this painting. Thornycroft is dressed against the prevailing fashion in a daring mix of styles, Renaissance Revival and Aesthetic, her hair à la Grecque (a style she favoured after she was ‘nearly scalped’ as a girl when her hair was caught in the machinery of a steam engine built by her brother Isaac). Thornycroft set up her own studio in the 1880s, and became Vice-President of the Society of Women Artists from 1899 to 1909.