The Hon. John Collier was the younger son of the judge Robert Collier, 1st Baron Monkswell (1817-1886), himself an amateur artist of some talent. After receiving his formal education in Heidelberg, John Collier returned to London where he studied under Poynter at the Slade before receiving further art training in Munich and under J.P. Laurens in Paris. Encouraged to take up painting professionally by Alma-Tadema and Millais, he made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1874, and continued to exhibit there until his death sixty years later. As Millais before him, Collier became a talented and prolific portraitist, exhibiting 165 works at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, of which he became vice-president. His textbook on the subject, The Art of Portrait Painting, was published in 1905.
This elegant, and as yet unidentified, woman dressed in a pale pink silk dress is the epitome of Edwardian glamour. She holds a Chinese bowl in her hand filled with pink carnations, which perfectly compliment her gown. Using a simple and harmonious palette of white and pink, Collier echoes the stylish portraits of his contemporaries John Singer Sargent and James Jebusa Shannon, both masters of the ‘Swagger portrait’. Collier could always be relied on for a good likeness, presented with style, and he painted many notable figures of the day including the actress Ellen Terry, the violinist Neruda, Charles Darwin, Rudyard Kipling and George Bernard Shaw.