c1913 by William Leech
The National Gallery of Ireland
The title of this painting, The Sunshade, is fitting. Like postcard fifteen, Parasols, the title draws us to the absorbing object of the painting. In Parasols it was the decadence of Chinese beach shades; here it is the vast cavern of the deep turquoise umbrella – fine fabric stretched across its skeleton, made translucently sea-like as the sun penetrates the surface. However, more than this, the painting has its merits in its central figure. The woman stands, candid, casual and careless – of perhaps anything – but certainly us or her observer. What is most interesting is how her whole body, her features and her clothes play a role in this stance of slightly proud self-absorption. Her cardigan is loosely worn; billowing slightly above the button, thrown on and painted casually, blurry in mustard brush strokes. Her hands are elegantly long, the concaves of knuckles beautifully articulated in light and shadow; holding the umbrella lightly, they barely support its weight as it rests on her shoulder. The arrogance of her features is comparable to Lewis, the angles and colours of bone and skin certainly seem reminiscent of his portrait style. It is a detailed and brilliant painting, immediately capturing, carried by its harmony of colour and light.