George Spencer Watson ROI, ARA, RA (1869-1934)

Artist Name George Spencer Watson ROI, ARA, RA (1869-1934)
Title Portrait of Mrs William Tisdall - Elsie Gardiner
Description This superb large British Edwardian exhibited portrait oil painting is by noted artist George Spencer Watson. It was painted in 1909 and exhibited at the Royal Academy the same year and has a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite tone to it. One can see the influences of Lord Leighton and George Frederick Watts as well as John Singer Sargent. The sitter is Mrs William Tisdall, nee Elsie Gardiner, sister of Watson's wife, Hilda Gardiner. She was born in 1875 and died in 1940 aged sixty-five. She would have been about thirty-four at the time of this portrait.  She married William Tisdall - The Tisdalls were a prominent Irish family who had owned the Charlesfort Estate, Kells, Co. Meath since the mid 18th Century. They had a son, Michael. They moved to England and lived in Brighton, Sussex, in 1881 and Leigh, Worcestershire, in 1891. William registered for military service in 1915 which he survived and he died in 1954, at the age of 78, so out living his first wife by some 14 years, having married again. This stunning full-length portrait is of Elsie in quite a casual pose, one leg out and elbow resting on a mantlepiece of the fire place, a pink shawl beneath it. Next to her on the mantlepiece is a gleaming vase with red flowers partly reflected in the mirror. An ornate wall paper is behind her.  She is gazing to her right and downwards. She is a beautiful woman, wearing a white lace dress, caught in the sunlight, adorned with a pink flower and her dark hair is up on her head showing off her slender neck. She is wearing several gold rings, bracelets and necklaces suggesting her status and wealth. The luminosity of Elsie's white dress and skin tones against the dark background is simply beautiful. There are lovely details in her facial features and hands and the brushwork on the flowers and wallpaper is superb. This is a fantastic example of Watson's work and a simply stunning large Edwardian portrait oil painting that would not look out of place in any major gallery.

Signed and dated 1909 lower right.

Details of sitter inscribed on stretcher bar verso.
Provenance Exhibited: The Royal Academy, London 1909. no.40 entitled Mrs William Tisdall.
Possibly Exhibited at The Paris Salon. Dresden. Kunstsalon Emil Richter, 1911. Dorset County Museum, Dorchester & Southampton Art Gallery 18th Sept 1981-10 January 1982 no.3

The Artist's family, by descent. The artist refers to the painting of this portrait in his notebook at the time. 'Aug 08. Mrs Tisdall nee Gardiner sister of Hilda and Mrs Thompson...done at Charlesfort.....Had a delightful time there'.
Medium Oil on Canvas
Size 35 x 60 inches
Frame Housed in the original ornate gilt frame, 67 inches by 42 inches, in good condition.
Condition Good condition.
Biography George Spencer Watson, ROI, RP, ARA, RA (1869-1934) Born in London the son of a surgeon, George Spencer Watson trained as an artist at St. John's Wood and The Royal Academy Schools from 1889. He was an English portrait artist of the late romantic school who sometimes worked in the style of the Italian Renaissance. Exhibiting at the RA from 1891, George Spencer Watson's best Edwardian portraits show a controlled aestheticism and display the influence of John Singer Sargent. Although his earlier preference had been to paint subject pictures in the tradition of Lord Leighton and George Frederick Watts, Spencer Watson's later success as a society portraitist led to a steady stream of commissions. After 1900 Spencer Watson began exhibiting regularly at The Royal Academy, at The New Gallery and at The Society of Portrait painters of which he became an active member. Until the First World War he also exhibited at the Paris Salon regularly until the 1914 War, and he had a one man touring show in 1912. In 1909 he married Hilda Mary Gardiner, a dancer and mime artist, and follower of the actor Edward Gordon Craig. They had a daughter, Mary Spencer Watson (1913–2006), who became a sculptor. In the year of 1923 he bought Dunshay Manor in the hills of the Isle of Purbeck, after already having spent holidays in nearby Swanage. He died in London at age 65 and a memorial exhibition was held at the Fine Art Society in the same year. There is a memorial to him in the north vestibule of St James's Church, Piccadilly. Some of his works are held at Tate Britain, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston and collections in Bournemouth, Liverpool, Plymouth and the National Gallery of Canada. Born in London, Watson studied at the Royal Academy from 1889; he exhibited there from 1891 and also at the Paris salon. Retrospective exhibitions were held at the Galerie Heinemann, Munich in 1912, and at the Fine Art Society in 1914. His work A Lady in Black (1922) is owned by the Tate Collection.
Price £48000
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