De-Frocking a Flapper Girl

Circle of Hans Eworth fl.1540 - c.1573
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth
Oil on panel


I had driven down to Cheltenham to visit a friend’s picture gallery with no other motive than to share a good lunch and chat about the art trade. His gallery specialised in marine works, a subject that held little interest for me as my area was Elizabethan portraiture, but he was always good company and besides, the weather was fine and he was buying lunch!

Leaning against the gallery wall, looking a little incongruous sitting between two pictures of nineteenth century marine oils, was a garish four feet high portrait of a 20’s flapper girl. Why she was there was anyone’s guess but something about it tempted me to examine a small area of paint on the bottom left hand side of the panel. The paint here was falling away and I noticed that the exposed under-paint was harder and much older than the modern paint covering the rest of the panel. It was a minute area – a couple of square inches, but I was convinced that this older paint might well spread over the entire panel. I asked the price and wasted no time in agreeing to a figure of sixty -five pounds…

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