PAUL PEEL, R.C.A.
PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1885
9.75 ins x 8 ins; 19.7 cms x 24.8 cms
In the summer of 1885, Peel became engaged to Danish-born painter Isaure Verdier. Given the date of this work, it is reasonable to assume the sitter is his fiancée. Victoria Baker writes: "As with other members of his family, Peel gave expression to his close personal relationship with Isaure in his art. Between 1885 and 1886 he executed at least three portraits of her." While this lot is not one of those three recorded portraits, like his drawing of her of the same year in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Peel is successful in expressing "a more introspective side of (the sitter’s) personality.”
While the date would suggest Isaure as the most likely subject, the figure also bears a resemblance to Peel's younger sister Clara Louise as depicted in Reading the Future (collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery).
Still other experts have speculated that the sitter could be Peel’s sister Mildred, who accompanied the artist back to Paris in December 1883. The siblings spent the summers of 1884 and 1885 in Pont-Aven, where Peel subsequently met Verdier. Mildred Peel is identified as the model for several oil studies from this period.
Victoria Baker, Paul Peel: A Retrospective, 1860-1892 (catalogue), London Regional Art Gallery, London, 1986, pages 40-41, page 41, Fig. 9 for a photograph featuring the artist’s sister, Mildred, reproduced; page 86, cat. no. 37 for Portrait of Isaure Verdier Peel, 1886 (collection of London Public Library & Art Museum, London), reproduced in colour; page 113, cat. no. 22 for Reading the Future (collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery), reproduced; page 119, cat. no. 28 for The Artist's Wife, 1885 (collection of Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa), reproduced; and page 127, cat. no. 36 for Portrait of the Artist’s Wife (collection of the National Gallery of Canada), reproduced.
Private Collection, Ontario