Private Collection

Green, Madeline

(1884 – 1947)

Coster with Dogs, circa 1925

Oil on canvas

Signed

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Maas Gallery

Exhibited: 50/50; Fifty British Women Artists 1900 – 1950, Worshipful Company of Mercers (3rd December 2018 Р23rd March, 2019); The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds (9th April, 2019 Р27th July, 2019).

The clothes worn by the figure leaning awkwardly against a wall are

not those of an office clerk but of a member of the working classes. The

garments look crumpled and worn and somewhat too large for their

wearer’s slim frame. The sturdy lace-up shoes seem too long. Yellow

flashes of waistcoat poke out from underneath a brown jacket, but there

is no cravat, perhaps not even a shirt, the neck being protected by a scarf

instead. Maybe this alludes to the kingsman: the brightly coloured silk

handkerchief that served costermongers as necktie. The pony and cart

visible in the distance suggest that it is indeed a coster lad we have before

us. Or is it? The impossibly thin leashes attached to the collars of the two

whippets – further indicators of working class membership – lead to an

incongruously delicate, long-fingered hand. What should be a flat cap

is bulging, probably from the attempt to hide inappropriately long hair.

For it is the artist herself, Madeline Green, an anterior Cindy Sherman,

who is looking at us. Green used variations of this disguise in several of

her paintings and prints, sometimes exchanging the striped scarf for one

made of black and white check. The fabric features in many of her works,

fashioned into accessories, forming part of curtains, laying discarded on

pieces of furniture or on the floor, not unlike the mysterious object (a

blanket?) lying in the foreground to the left-hand side.

Commentary by Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London.

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THE ARTIST

Green, Madeline

1884 – 1947

Famously in 1875, Gill painted the sign that was to suggest the name of the famous night-club ‘La Lapin Agile’. It was a picture of a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan, and locals began calling their neighbourhood night-club “Le Lapin ˆ Gill”: “Gill’s rabbit”. Over time, this name evolved into “Lapin Agile”, or “Nimble Rabbit”. The sign can still be seen outside the night-club in Rue des Saules, Montmartre, Paris.

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