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Isobel (seated) was fourteen and her sister Dorothy (standing) was eight years old when this portrait was painted. Their father was a barrister and the family lived in London, near Regent's Park. The room shown in the painting is furnished in the Aesthetic or ‘artistic’ taste, which became fashionable among the urban middle-classes, especially in artistic and intellectual circles, as an alternative to more mainstream furnishing choices. ‘Artistic’ features include the window with small round leaded lights, the heavy velvet curtains in a rich but muted red and the red matting on the floor. The wallpaper, which can be seen just behind the settee, is a pattern called ‘Sunflower’, designed by William Morris in 1879 and manufactured by Jeffrey for Morris & Co.
The painting was probably displayed in an ‘artistic’ interior in the Freeman family home.
Bell and Dorothy Freeman
watercolour on paper
H 90 x W 73.5 cm
purchased from a private owner with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, 2015