Valentine Cameron Prinsep RA (British, 1838 – 1904)
The flower seller
Oil on canvas
Signed and inscribed on the reverse with an old label
35 x 25 in. (88.7 x 62.7 cm.)
Valentine (Val) Prinsep was a British painter of the Pre-Raphaelite school, born in Calcutta. His mother was the sister of the photographer Julia Cameron and Maria Jackson who was the grandmother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. His father was a great friend of George Watts under whom Val studied. He then studied under Charles Gleyre in Paris with James Whistler, Edward Poynter and George Du Maurier. George Du Maurier’s book ‘Trilby’ cast Val as the original as Taffy.
After Paris Prinsep went to Italy with Edward Burne Jones and made the acquaintance of Robert Browning who he befriended and who was also a close friend of John Everett Millais and painted with Dante Rossetti at the Oxford Union. He was an annual exhibiter at the RA from 1862. He was elected ARA in 1879 and RA in 1894.
This large portrait of a particularly pretty young lady is beautifully executed. The contrasting confident brushstrokes finely detailing the flesh tones with bolder freer strokes detailing the flowers and elements of her pastel coloured dress can only be achieved by a master of the art. The use of the gold background allows the subject to stand out joyfully within the composition.
Though very much of its time the colours are very vivid and light, the pinks and red of the bouquet contrast the vibrant greens and whites of the flowers in her back pack. The subject engages the viewer directly, serenely offering the bouquet. Overall it is an extremely charming work by a very prominent artist of the age. Though unsigned on the canvas it has been shown to Christies who feel there is no reason to suspect that it is not an original