A feeling of well-being and tranquillity is so typical of the paintings by Dorothea Sharp. Her aim was to make the world a better place by accentuating the positive and innocent side of life so perfectly represented by children and adults in a relaxed atmosphere. In A day by the sea a gentle breeze lifts the tent flaps and the children’s towel whilst the two adults rest in the welcome shade. They are on a beach in the Languedoc region of Southern France. The red and white stripes of the deck chair and the child’s bathing suit, together with the straw hat laid nonchalantly aside, suggest that this warm sunny day is for rest and enjoyment.
The foreground figure was probably created from oil studies of a friend or life model. A similar figure appears in a painting Under the shadow of the tent, 1914, by the Canadian artist Helen Galloway McNicoll, (1879-1915), R.B.A. Sharp and McNicoll were friends and painting companions until McNicoll’s death at the age of 35. The figure in the deck chair is an image of the artist Marcella Claudia Heber Smith, (1887-1963), R.I., R.B.A., R.M.S., V.P.S.W.A., whom Dorothea met in about 1913.
It is interesting to note that although one of the children wears a bathing costume, the adults are well-covered. In a long-sleeved, full length dress Marcella also wears dark stockings and shoes in order to retain a sense of decorum.
We are grateful to Helen Entwisle, author of Rock Pools & Sunshine, the Biography of Dorothea Sharp, for cataloguing this work.