Oil on canvas; signed and labelled
16.5 x 21.25 inches
Glasgow Institute, 1932, no. 89
Paris Salon, 1933, no. 1148
Madeline Green lived and painted for most of her life in Ealing, West London, where she had a studio first in, then near, her parents’ house. She won a scholarship to the RA Schools, which she attended from 1906. She quickly found her unique style and went on to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy, the Glasgow Institute and, unusually for a British artist, the Paris Salon. In 1925, the magazine Le Petit Parisien described one of her pictures: ‘l’étrange intérieur exsangue de Madeline Green’ (strange pale interior). The famous art dealer Joseph Duveen gave her publicity by buying her picture The Future in 1927 and giving it to the Manchester Art Gallery. Green wrote that it was ‘done in body colour underneath, and glazed with pure colour and oil ... I always paint in this way - and although it takes a time, I don’t think the same effect can be obtained otherwise’.
Green was a loner, not belonging to any group or school. From her isolated world in Ealing, where she lived unmarried for most of her working life, she projected herself through her pictures, role-playing variously as a mother and a wife, as a costermonger, as a dancer, as sinner and saint - or simply in a variety of different costumes and hats, open-mouthed and staring directly out of her pictures.
She often painted herself twice, even thrice, in front of her big studio window, in conversation pieces. Her other selves suggest introspective psychological dialogue, but defy obvious meaning. In this fine example, the space between her and her doppelgänger is bridged by a single arm, but the figures remain distinct. One flirtatiously tries on a blue hat, but is otherwise dressed in virginal white; the other displays a wedding ring and a daring red scarf.