Framed (ref: 13)
Signed and dated
Oil on canvas, 48 3/4 x 32 5/8 in. (124 x 83 cm.)
Overall dimensions in its original Chapman and Brothers polished fruitwood frame: 58 1/4 x 42 1/2 in. (148 x 108 cm.)
Provenance: The John Stewart Parry Collection
Frank Moss Bennett is best known for his genre and historical subjects; though technically brilliant, these paintings appear today somewhat dated and formulaic. This portrait, though evocative of a previous era, retains all of its vitality. Whilst the artist is recorded as undertaking portrait commissions (see National Portrait Gallery, accession no. 1555), he rarely portrayed figures in contemporary dress.
The intimacy of the portrait suggests that it is possibly a friend or family member. The sitter is fashionably dressed, wearing a high-cut collar and a pale-coloured lounge suit popularised by the Prince of Wales after the Great War.
Bennet specialised in genre paintings of historical subjects. He was born in Liverpool and studied at Clifton College, Bristol, then at the Slade School of Fine Art, St John's Wood Art School and Royal Academy Schools, where he won a gold medal and traveling scholarship. Although his forte was the historical scene, both real and imaginary, he was an exceptionally fine portrait painter. He was a prolific exhibitor, showing at the major galleries of his era, including Dudley Gallery, the RA, RI and Paris Salon. His work was reproduced in print by Charles Hauff, L. Wolff & Co., Mardon Son & Hall and the Medici Society. He served on the committee of the Surrey Art Circle from 1902 and exhibited regularly with them. An example of his work is in the National Portrait Gallery.