Ethel Walker (Scottish, 1861-1951), Vanessa, 1937, oil on canvas, 610 x 508 mm.
Vanessa Bell, who is shown in this portrait, was the sister of the writer Virginia Woolf and one of the founders of the circle known as Bloomsbury. Here she is placed in a domestic interior, possibly at Charleston in Sussex. Her gaze is directed away from the viewer, suggesting that we are intruding into her private space.
Bell’s willingness to experiment placed her in the forefront of the avant-garde. By contrast Walker worked in a more traditional style mainly producing portraits, flower pieces and seascapes.