About this artwork

This study was made while McTaggart was a pupil at the Trustees’ Academy under the artist Robert Scott Lauder. Lauder was an innovative teacher who encouraged his students to paint from the live model, but forbade them from placing figures in imaginary settings, believing they must only paint exactly what they saw. This study demonstrates McTaggart’s skill in painting human flesh and forms. He modelled the figure with numerous delicate applications of thin paint, which contrast with the loose and sketchy treatment of the background studio and coloured draperies. McTaggart had a great ability to capture the psychological aspects of his sitters. Here the girl’s exposed, available body is contradicted by her detached, internalised gaze.

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  • title: A Life Study of a Female Nude Model Seated on White Drapery
  • accession number: NG 2639
  • artist: William McTaggartScottish (1835 - 1910)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Nudity
  • date created: About 1854
  • measurements: 54.50 x 38.50 cm (framed: 61.40 x 45.30 x 2.90 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1994
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William McTaggart

William McTaggart

McTaggart's land and seascapes reflect his fascination with nature and man's relationship with it. His bold colours and vigorous brushwork find parallels in Impressionist painting, although essentially form part of a distinct Scottish tradition. They also echo qualities in paintings by Constable and Turner, whom he admired. McTaggart was born on the Mull of Kintyre and returned there frequently from his studio in Glasgow and later from his home in Broomieknow, just outside Edinburgh. He trained in Edinburgh at the Trustees' Academy and enjoyed early success when elected as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy aged twenty-four.