20th Century replica artist's frame, with ogee profile and painted finish
Alice Halkett painted this study of iris in a vase when she was about nineteen. She was evidently the daughter of her father, prepared to tackle a complex arrangement, full of fore-shortenings and difficulties of tone relative to the background. Still life does not seem to have figured in her father’s output; his work consists mainly of portraiture, figure studies, genre scenes and paintings of industrial settings (a series painted in a sugar factory), with some (generally urban) landscapes. But flower painting was seen as fitting for an accomplished female in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; moreover, it was something which she might continue to do throughout her life, without falling from the ladylike to the bohemian. About 12 years before Alice’s birth her father had joined L’Essor, the Belgian avant garde circle of Aesthetes and Symbolists, and it seems clear from this painting that he had brought Alice up to appreciate a canvas as a flat decorative surface (cf. Maurice Denis), and to compose a picture as a patterning of contrasts and complementaries.