Una, Lady Troubridge: Fashion Contexts
The focus of the portrait is in the eyes of the figure, slate grey and under furrowed brows. A look of intelligence and seriousness looks back at the viewer behind a monocle and is framed by a severe haircut (blunt bangs and a short bob). The gender of the figure is ambiguous; the only clues to her sex are the shape of the lips, pink and feminine. The diamond earring, too, lends to her identity as a woman. However, the rest of her attire, from the black top hat to the formal men’s wear, is entirely masculine. The stance of the figure is masculine as well–front-facing and proud, direct and prominent. If following her right arm down, you find her hand resting on a dachshund, one of two present in the portrait. The black fur of both of these animals is glossy and interrupted only by the studded collars around their necks. Their attention is facing back at the ambiguous figure with loving, intent faces. Based on the title of the work, Una, Lady Troubridge, as shown in Fig. 1, we can conclude that the person being depicted is Una Troubridge. The figure of Lady Troubridge is central in the composition, and anchored in the frame by the presence of the two small dogs, resting on a white surface of some sort. The aforementioned lips, pink and distinct, are the only source of color. The rest of the portrait is comprised of monochromatic blue-grays and blacks. The environment surrounding the three figures, Lady Troubridge and her pets, is abstruse and undefined except for divisions created by gray color shifts. The artist, Romaine Brooks, created this painting in 1924 during a time of much social upheaval and reconstruction. The figure portrayed in the painting is identified by the title as Una Troubride, the life-time lover of Radclyffe Hall. Hall was a friend of Brooks and and a prominent writer, walking within the same bourgeois social circle. The dachshunds that share the frame with Una were gifts given to her by Hall (Lucchesi...
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