"Ethel Gabain's seated figure is delicate in tonality ad acute in its characterful drawing."(The Scotsman, 24 May 1948, p 4)
"Ethel Gabain's 'Little French Bride' is delicately light of colour and composition." (The Sketch, 12 May 1948, p 17)
Gabain first made her name as a gifted lithographer; it was not until 1927, at the age of 44, that she exhibited her first oil painting. By the mid '30s, Gabain had firmly established herself as a painter whose works were noteworthy for their 'delicacy of tone' and 'dryad-haunted fantasy', often embodied by model Carmen Watson (The Observer, 13 Feb 1939, p 14). The artist's favourite sitter - who appears as a bride in seven of Gabain's pictures - was the subject of a gushing article that appeared in the Sunday Express in 1936:
‘Carmen Watson, blonde, petite artist’s model, is the most sought-after girl in London. She has been working 12 hours a day for six years, and is now booked up for three months. “Long hair, punctuality, and an ‘indefinable something’ are my greatest assets,” she said ... “Artists tell me I am the Botticelli type. They say there is something about my smile they can’t quite capture. So they go on trying ... Even Mr Gerald Kelly, who usually paints only his wife, did a portrait of me.”’
The model bride turned real-life bride when she married Mr Joseph Hyde in 1940; the happy couple received Gabain's portrait of Watson, The Little Bride (Royal Academy, 1940), as a wedding present. Eight years later, Gabain painted and exhibited this picture of Watson as The Little French Bride at the Royal Academy, admired by The Sketch for its 'delicately light ... colour and composition.'