Portrait of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley (Mabel Elizabeth Hammersley, née Lilford) (born c.1888)

  • About the work
    Country: Other
    City: other locations abroad
    Confusion over which ‘Mrs Hugh Hammersley’ is represented in Steer’s portrait is dispelled by the youthfulness of Mabel who was in her mid twenties at the time. Dressed in an elegant navy jacket and skirt and a ruffled white blouse, she looks directly at us with a steady, cool and detached gaze. Capturing a sense of her alertness, Steer’s portrait focuses on her eyes which hold our attention while her hands, dress and the sofa on which she is seated are painted in a more summary fashion. 
    According to D.S. MacColl, Steer’s biographer and friend, Mabel Hammersley (also known as ‘Dorothy’) was an amenable woman who, after the death of her husband in 1930, maintained her friendship with Steer. He occasionally visited her and sketched while staying as her guest at her home in Totland on the Isle of Wight. Mabel’s great-nephew, Graham Senior-Milne, recounted this anecdote about her:
    'When my parents were engaged they took Aunt Dorothy out to dinner in London...they took a taxi to take [her] home but my father realised that he hadn’t got enough money to pay the fare, so he had to borrow the money from Aunt Dorothy, whose normal mode of transport was a huge, old, chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce'.

  • About the artist

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    Hammersley, Mabel Elizabeth (née Lilford)
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Portrait of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley (Mabel Elizabeth Hammersley, née Lilford) (born c.1888)
    Oil on canvas
    height: 91.50 cm, width: 71.50 cm
    Purchased from the Fine Art Society, March 1995
    br: P W Steer 1913
    Collection of ‘Mrs Hugh Hammersley’; sold through Sotheby's, London, on 17 July 1965 (Lot 61); collection of ‘Mark Glazebrook’; collection of ‘William Thomas’; from whom purchased by the Fine Art Society, London, in March 1995; from whom purchased by the Government Art Collection in March 1995
    GAC number