Lords and Ladies 2006

Rose Wylie, Lords and Ladies, 2006; Gift of UK Friends of NMWA in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the museum

Rose Wylie, Lords and Ladies, 2006; Gift of UK Friends of NMWA in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the museum

Rose Wylie paints bandy-bodied figures drawn from an array of sources, including old master and contemporary paintings, cartoons, Christmas cards, film stills, newspapers, or things she has seen around her neighborhood. Wylie removes figures from their original context and combines them with texts and other figures to develop allusive new scenes. She terms this associative process “personal-visual-diary-making.”  

Typical of Wylie’s signature working method, Lords and Ladies was inspired by a story about finding emotional support during divorce that the artist read in London’s The Guardian newspaper. The painting features a bride standing on a wedding cake beside her groom, who is modeled after the portrait of Philip IV of Spain (1620) by Rodrigo de Villandrando in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

In her studio in Kent, England, Wylie paints on large swathes of unstretched canvas placed on the floor, a process that enhances the gestural quality of her brushwork. She stresses the improvisational quality of her art by building up thick layers of paint, scratching out and repainting sections of compositions, and gluing on extra pieces of canvas as “corrections.”

With a visually compelling image as her primary goal, Wylie does not assign a fixed meaning to her works. The text captions in Lords and Ladies complement the witty appearance of the figures, but Wylie also values the patterns that lettering contributes to her compositions.

National Museum of Women in the Arts