Irish Peasant Woman

LL 702


Sculptors belonging to the so-called New Sculpture movement generally preferred bronze to marble because they liked the play of light and shadow across richly worked and modulated bronze surfaces. This early work also demonstrates their skill in casting bronze; a science still in its infancy in England around 1880. The worn, tired face of the old woman reflects the realism of Onslow Ford and his circle in their early years - a realism which Lever seems to have found acceptable in sculpture but not in painting. The artist was a personal friend of Lever, who bought most of the gallery's works by him from his son after his death. This sculpture is a portrait of an old woman associated with Ford’s family. According to the artist’s daughter, the woman ‘recoiled from it in horror’ upon seeing the portrait for the first time. She is shown wearing a traditional headscarf or handkerchief worn by Irish women of the period, although it is somewhat stylised.