A Spare Room, Chateau d’Auppegard by Ethel Sands, is a quiet interior scene painted in muted pastel tones. Light falling into the room from the window brings a feeling of warm domesticity. The artist’s deft use of pale coloured brushstrokes, coupled with a mix of patterns on the bed, floor and walls add warmth to the scene, recalling the interior scenes painted by the French intimiste artists Édouard Vuilliard and Pierre Bonnard.
Sands and her lifelong partner and fellow artist, Anna Hope Hudson bought Château d’Auppegard, a grand mansion near Dieppe in France, in 1920. In Hope Hudson’s work, Château d'Auppegard (Tate), the front of the house is shown surrounded by greenery. Both American artists, Sands and Hope had met as art students in Paris in 1895, after which they divided their time between England and France. The couple spent many years lovingly restoring their home, and often welcoming guests to stay. In 1927, they commissioned Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to paint a mural onto the walls of an adjoining building. Bell and Grant visited in July and September that year during which Bell wrote of their experience of staying at the house in a letter to her sister, Virginia Woolf:
Ethel goes out at night & hunts snails till there are practically none left… Everything has yards and yards of fresh muslin and lace and silk festooned on it & all seems to be washed & ironed in the night…
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, Ethel Sands’ family settled in London in 1879. Studying in Paris (1894), Sands met Anna (Nan) Hope Hudson, an American painter who became her companion. Both studied with Eugène Carrière until 1901 and exhibited in Paris and London. Returning to London in 1907, they joined Sickert’s Fitzroy Street Group and later co-founded the London Group (1913). Sands painted quiet interior and figure scenes, portraits and still lifes. In the First World War, she and Hudson ran a hospital in Normandy. Afterwards, they lived between London and France, hosting events at their château near Dieppe. Both worked as war nurses in 1939, escaping France in 1940. Sands died in London in 1962, five years after Hudson’s death.
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