|Harold Speed "Lady Diana Bridgeman" date unknown |
Leamington Spa Gallery and Museum, U.K.
The sitter is (Helen) Diana Bridgeman (1907-1967.) She projects an easy assurance at the easel and in one newspaper clipping from 1930 announcing her marriage to "art authority" Robert Abdy, we read " The bride, the last of Princess Mary's bridesmaids to be married, is also an artist of some ability." However, I can find no examples of any work done by her. She is the subject of no less than five portraits owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London, and their short bio of her omits any mention of artistic aspirations and merely describes her as, "Fashion leader; wife of Sir Robert Henry Abdy and daughter of 5th Earl of Bradford. Sitter in 5 portraits."
Harold Speed (1872-1957) was an English artist of great reputation, even renowned. He studied at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, and the same year he graduated (after winning numerous awards) he was elected as a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. As well as a successful career in portraiture, Speed left his mark indelibly on multiple generations of art students with his wonderfully clear and intelligently written manuals on drawing and painting. His most famous book The Practice and Science of Drawing was written in 1913 and is still in print (and available as an e-book) today. My own copy (inherited from my father) sits out where I can refer to it as necessary (i.e. frequently!)
Many thanks to artist John Philip Hagen for sending me this piece, which I had never seen before!