Virgin and Child
John Melhuish Strudwick (Clapham 1849 – London 1937)
This cluttered painting shows the haloed Virgin seated on a bench before a hedge of roses, wearing a blue robe with the Christ Child, also with a halo, on her knee. Behind them are the heads of eleven attendant angels, all with feathered golden wings. The decorative use of gold leaf recalls early Italian primitive religious paintings and makes the image seem quite, intentionally, two-dimensional. Strudwick was an unsuccesssful pupil of the Royal Academy but became an assistant first to Spencer Stanhope and then to Burne-Jones in the 1870s whose style he emulated. He famously told George Bernard Shaw that he could not draw, a hindrance Shaw regarded as a gift, saving him from empty virtuosity. Strudwick exhibited at the New Gallery and had two Liverpool shipping magnates as patrons, George Holt (1825-1896) and William Imrie (1836- 1906), the latter of whom once owned this painting. It was painted in 1901, just eight years before the artist gave up art altogether.
Oil painting with watercolour on panel with gold leaf, Virgin and Child by John Meluish Strudwick (1849-1937), signed and dated: J.M. STRUDWICK / 1901. The haloed Virgin is seated on a bench before a hedge of roses, wearing a blue robe with the Christ Child, also with a halo, on her right knee. Behind them are the heads of eleven attendant angels.
William Imrie (1836 - 1906), shipownwer, of Holmstead, Mossley Hill, Liverpool; reputedly bequeathed it to his adopted daughter, Amy Elisabeth Rosalie (Pollard) (1870 -1944), abbess of a Convent of Poor Clares, Cornwall (Sclerder Abbey, Looe); purchased on behalf of the National Trust by G. Michael Trinick, Regional Director for Cornwall, from a dealer in Peverell Park Road, Plymouth 1972 (who claimed he had bought it from an elderly lady of the town who had been given it by an admirer).
Marks and inscriptions
(torn printed label) LIVERPO[OL]/1901./DICKSEE AND [?]
Makers and roles
John Melhuish Strudwick (Clapham 1849 – London 1937), artist