Maria, from Sterne

Image credit: Ferens Art Gallery

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Maria, a young woman, is sitting under a tree with a small white dog at her feet. She wears a long, white, plain dress and has her hair tied up with a green headpiece. Most of the painting portrays the sitter's forest or garden environment. The skyscape in the background suggests that it is either sunrise or sunset. Maria, a character from Lawrence Sterne's novel 'A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr Yorick' (published in 1768), is heartbroken after being deserted by her fiancé. Her downcast mood is echoed by her dog, Sylvio, here portrayed as a Maltese or Bolognese lapdog. Wright captures the dog’s expression and texture very faithfully and it is possible that the model was a family pet. The painting portrays Sterne's visually detailed description of Maria: 'I discovered Maria sitting under a poplar.

Ferens Art Gallery

Kingston upon Hull


Maria, from Sterne




oil on canvas


H 100.3 x W 125.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gifted by Ian Askew in recognition of his two grandfathers who both worked and prospered in Hull, 2016

Work type



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Ferens Art Gallery

Queen Victoria Square, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire HU1 3RA England

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