March 9, 2010

The Painted Muse

I just finished a book by W. Somerset Maugham called The Painted Veil, and adorning the cover of my copy is this exquisite painting you see to the right (I'll leave my actual review of the book for a future post, but here's a little hint: I loved it). The distant mountains and expansive sky suggest a sort of loneliness, as if the subject were caught in a land utterly strange and foreign to her (which is, fittingly, a theme in Maugham's book). The painting is by British artist Meredith Frampton and hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London, one of my favorite places on the planet. According to the National Portrait Gallery's website, the sitter of the painting is Winifred Radford, a singer and teacher of singing. Seemingly, she was a London girl-about-town in the 1920-50's because there are loads of photographs of her from that era on the gallery's website. It looks as though she had quite the glamorous life (I just found her obituary from The Independent; apparently, she was also an accomplished musical performer).

I love studying older paintings and photos and contemplating the lives of the subjects. I imagine and hope Winifred's life was as lovely as these images would suggest. I really like this photo of her posing next to her famous portrait. She was still such a beauty, even in her later years.

{Images via the National Portrait Gallery}

1 comment:

The Neo-Traditionalist said...

Must read the book and LOVE the painting. It is similar to those I posted only (shhhh) I think yours artist's technique is far more sophisticated : )
XO Katie