The present composition is dated to circa 1910 in the 1964 Reid Gallery exhibition catalogue; however, it is identical in handling with broadly slashed hatching and angular drawing to a painting of Sylvia Gilman seated, which is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue and dated to circa 1918. Gilman was married for the second time in the late summer of 1917 to Sylvia Hardy, an artist who had studied with him and who he had known since 1914.
Richard Thomson comments on the artist's portraits, 'Gilman gave early evidence of his talent for revealing a personality. He rarely let slacken his ability to isolate and transcribe the mood of his model - he was particularly sensitive to women and preferred them as sitters - and from an early age showed his penchant and sympathy for withdrawn expressions of melancholy and vulnerablity ... Gesture he preferred to keep to an undemonstrative minimum. Nevertheless, he recognised the character of hands and rarely left them out' (see R. Thomson, Exhibition catalogue, Harold Gilman, Arts Council of Great Britain, Stoke-on-Trent, City Museum and Art Gallery, 1981, p. 20).
Andrew Causey discusses the artist's interiors from the last years of his life, 'Gilman's painting was as much as ever about people and their activities, the way they occupy rooms and share spaces with inanimate objects, and in this respect his work is close to that of the 17th Century Dutch painters like Vermeer and de Hoogh. Vermeer's reputation was growing steadily at the time, and the two paintings by which he is now represented in the National Gallery were then both fairly recent acquistions. There is a sense of peace and solitude in Gilman's late interiors that contradicts the horror of the years in which they were painted, as the measured calmness of Vermeer's interiors was unswayed by the crises of 17th Century Holland' (see A. Causey, Exhibition catalogue, Harold Gilman, op. cit, p. 18).
We are very grateful to Dr Wendy Baron for her assistance in preparing the above catalogue entry.