About this artwork

This informal study of the relationship between a mother and her baby makes a refreshing change from the sentimental interpretations of such subjects favoured by many contemporary Victorian artists. The baby is clearly fascinated by his mother's fan which is held teasingly above him. Orchardson based the scene on his own family life, using his wife, Ellen, and son Gordon, as models. The impression of spontaneity was, in fact, the result of detailed planning through preparatory drawings, and Orchardson's balanced composition reflected the influence of the work of the Japanese printmaker Utamaro. Degas and Sickert were among the painting's enthusiastic admirers when it was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1886.

  • title:
    Master Baby
  • accession number:
    NG 1138
  • artist:
  • depicted:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    1886
  • measurements:
    Irregular: 109.00 x 168.00 cm (framed: 143.50 x 203.30 x 16.00 cm)
  • credit line:
    Purchased with the aid of an anonymous donor 1913
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Sir William Quiller Orchardson

Sir William Quiller Orchardson