My Wife

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James GUNN
Born Glasgow, 1893-1964

My Wife, circa 1933

Oil on canvas
Presented 1938 by the Artist
Museum number 1971-55

From 1933, Herbert James Gunn signed his works simply ‘James Gunn’. He married Marie Pauline Miller in 1929. She became his favourite model and his portraits of her, including this one, are amongst Gunn’s most celebrated paintings. In contrast to his portraits of illustrious sitters including King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Field-Marshall Montgomery, those he made of his wife show their love and intimacy and he took obvious pleasure in her outstanding beauty.

Here, the elegance of Pauline’s pose matches that of her clothes. The coat she wears was designed by Elspeth Champcommunal of Paris and its velvet texture is meticulously rendered, while the bright whiteness of her gloves and hair piece enliven the deep black of her outfit. One visitor to McManus Galleries and Museum was so taken with Gunn’s portrait that he proposed to his partner in front of the painting.

My Wife
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