George Henry, The Blue Gown, undated_ISANG Collection

- George Henry was a Scottish painter and one of the most prominent members of the Glasgow School. He was born in North Ayrshire and studied at the Glasgow School of Art, but learned most from his nature studies at Kirkcudbright. A crucial formative experience for the artist was the trip that he made to Japan in 1893, during which he studied Japanese graphic art and painted a number of portraits of geishas. Following his travels, Henry settled in London and made a living as a highly admired society portrait painter. He became principally known for his portraits, which were more distinguished by technical ability than by rendition of character.
Blue Gown depicts a woman who is looking away in a demure fashion and dressed in a very sumptuous and lavish dress, revealing very little of her body. The portrait is executed with great panache and with a strong sense of colour. The main focal point is the vivid blueness and rich material of the woman’s dress. The artist’s title for this painting, which does not refer to the sitter, is deliberate and suggests an acknowledgment of the emerging Fauve painters of the time and their liberation of colour. Henry’s artistic significance in the Glasgow school is his push towards richer and more decorative colours in portraiture.