WORK OF THE WEEK! It’s that time of year when, as tradition has it, a big bird becomes a focal point of many a Christmas dinner table. It is this that Edith Somerville likely had in mind when conceiving of The Goose Girl (1888).
The painting depicts a young West Cork girl, barefoot and seated on the floor, as she clutches a favoured goose, perhaps her pet, in her hands. As is evident from Mary Ann’s expression, not to mention the vegetables and cooking utensils gathered around her, the goose is destined for a future meal. In the girl’s pout and tearful eyes, the artist sensitively captures the injustice often felt in youth about adult decisions. Her style, with its superb still life details (she acquired the white goose for three shillings!), echoes a form of French Peasant Realism popular during her education in Paris.
Edith Anna Œnone Somerville (1858-1949) was born in Corfu but grew up at Drishane, her family home in Castletownshend, County Cork. In the 1880s, she studied art in Paris at Académie Colarossi. Sketches from this time are held in our collection, while The Goose Girl shows the impact of her French academic training. An agriculturist, huntswoman, organist, and Suffragette, she is best remembered, however, for her writing partnership with Violet Martin (1862-1915). They published 14 works, including The Real Charlotte (1894) and The Irish RM stories, together under Somerville & Ross.
The Goose Girl (1888) by Edith Somerville is on display in HEROES & VILLAINS (Floor 1).
Emmet Place, Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 480 5042
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(2nd floor closes at 4:45 pm)
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