Lady on a Safety Tricycle

Sir John Lavery (1856 - 1941)

Watercolour on paper

1885
  • About the work

    This watercolour painting by John Lavery showing a woman riding a tricycle also includes the gate and lodge of Cartbank on Netherlee Road, Glasgow, a small Georgian villa, built in c.1770. Cartbank was the family home of Lavery’s friend, the painter Alexander MacBride. MacBride had established a tennis court in the grounds of the house and it was here that Lavery watched tennis matches in the summer of 1885, resulting in his series of paintings of the sport.

    The first commercial manufacture of bicycles was in Paris, when Pierre and Ernest Michaux produced two machines in 1861, 140 in 1862 and over 400 annually by 1865. By 1880 there were approximately 230 cycle clubs in the UK, around 70 of which were in London. The ‘Ordinary’, or penny farthing, developed into safety bicycles and tricycles like the example seen here, which first appeared in 1879. These were steadily improved in design until about 1890, when the earliest examples of the form of bicycle we know today were manufactured.

  • About the artist
    John Lavery, son of a Belfast publican, was orphaned at a young age. He lived with relatives and was apprenticed to a Belfast photographer, but later enrolled at the Haldane Academy, Glasgow. After his Glasgow studio burnt down, insurance money funded his studies at Heatherley’s in London and the Atelier Julian, Paris. He later worked at Grez-sur-Loing, where he helped form the Glasgow Boys. From 1885, he painted middle-class leisure pursuits and his later career was as a royal portraitist. In 1890 he married Kathleen McDermott, who died after giving birth to daughter, Eileen. In 1904 he married American Hazel Martyn, but both Hazel and Eileen died in 1935. Lavery then moved to Hollywood to paint celebrities, before retiring to Ireland.
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  • Details
    Title
    Lady on a Safety Tricycle
    Date
    1885
    Medium
    Watercolour on paper
    Dimensions
    height: 35.00 cm, width: 52.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Frank Gallery, June 1966
    Inscription
    br: J Lavery 1885 sd verso
    Provenance
    With J. S. Maas & Co. Ltd., London; from whom purchased by the Frank Gallery, London, on 20 May 1965, for £34.10.0; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in June 1966
    GAC number
    7463