Crawford ARt Gallery logo


Online CollectionWork of the WeekTalking PicturesCollection CareImage RequestsResourcesNew Acquisitions

Work of the Week | 4 October 2021

CAG.3063 Edith Somerville, Sketch of Head for ‘The Goose Girl’, c.1888, ink wash on paper, 12.7 x 11.43 cm. Purchased, 2020.

Ahead of her anniversary on Friday, this WORK OF THE WEEK is a tribute to Edith Somerville!

Although small in scale, Sketch of Head for ‘The Goose Girl’ (c.1888) offers intriguing insights into a beloved painting. A recent historic addition to the collection, it helps us to better understand the making of Somerville’s The Goose Girl (1888).

In preparing her paintings and illustrations, Somerville often used local people as models but only, as Frances Gillespie has noted, “if they could be persuaded to sit.” Very little is known, however, about the young subject of this ink study apart from her name, which is preserved in a diary entry from the time. In 1888, the artist wrote of her method: “Finished Maryann’s face and did a background down in scullery … got a small white gander for 3 bob and began to paint him.”

While each component may have been drawn from life, including this rapid ink study of Maryann, Somerville would ultimately construct her painting from various modified elements. This can particularly be appreciated in the differences of expression between the study of a shy Maryann and the painting’s sad goose girl.

Born on the island of Corfu, Edith Anna Œnone Somerville (1858-1949) was an Irish writer, farmer, huntswoman, suffragist, and organist. Although she is best known for her writing partnership with cousin, Violet Martin (1862-1915) – Somerville & Ross – she was also a talented artist with keen skills of observation.

Sketch of Head for ‘The Goose Girl’ (c.1888) is featured in EDITH SOMERVILLE: observations (Floor 2) until 5 December.

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
TripAdvisor LogoPure Cork LogoIreland's Ancient East logoCork Digital Mareting Awards Winner 2021Cork Business Association LogoCovid Charter logo
Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media logo

© 2023

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram Skip to content