Sir Herbert James Gunn

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, 1913 - 1993 (wife of the 11th Duke of Argyll)

About this artwork

This small oil sketch is a study for a much larger, full-length portrait of the Duchess of Argyll. A socialite of the early twentieth century, the Duchess was constantly in the news. She is most remembered for her much publicised divorce case with the Duke of Argyll in 1963, where she denied forgery and multiple counts of adultery. The full-length portrait (in a private collection) shows the Duchess in a vibrant and elaborate yellow gown and a set of pearls, with a black poodle at her heel. She is noted as saying “Always a poodle, only a poodle! That, and three strands of pearls… Together they are the absolutely essential things in life.”

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, 1913 - 1993 (wife of the 11th Duke of Argyll)
  • date created:
    About 1953
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    44.50 x 35.40 cm; Framed: 53.00 x 42.50 x 2.20 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1998
  • accession number:
    PG 3120
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
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Sir Herbert James Gunn

Sir Herbert James Gunn

Glasgow-born artist (Herbert) James Gunn briefly studied art at Glasgow and Edinburgh before moving to the Académie Julian in Paris in 1911. After serving with the 10th Scottish Rifles in the First World War, Gunn returned to Scotland where he married twice within a decade. His second wife, Pauline Miller, became a model for some of his best-known paintings. In 1929 Gunn decided to devote himself to portraiture and soon established a prolific and successful career in London. His portraits are sometimes sombre but always carefully painted, with close attention to detail. His distinguished sitters included Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother. Yet official recognition was slow to come, and only in 1961 was Gunn finally made a member of the Royal Academy.

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