Catherine Gulley RWA

The Guitar Player

Catherine Gulley RWA

The Guitar Player

This early 20th-century watercolour by British artist Catherine Gulley (1869-1962) depicts a young lady playing the guitar in a splendid setting.

Predominantly known for her scenes, Gulley’s oeuvre is brimming with heartwarming depictions of women in the home. It’s a veritable cornucopia of flora, music, birds, and beautiful garments. She was born, raised and trained in Bristol where she spent the vast majority of her life - exhibiting frequently at the Royal West of England Academy. She also had several works shown at London’s Royal Academy.

Her watercolours are rendered with the utmost care and underpinned by an advanced ability for drawing. Light is carefully observed as it cascades through tall sash windows. While the fine nuances of drapery are described perfectly.

Here, in this charming piece from around 1910, we see a seated young lady holding a classical guitar. She’s wearing a beautiful white dress and resting her foot on a stool upholstered in turquoise. The interior feels a little neoclassical and perhaps dates to the Regency period.

During the 1930s, Gulley was mentioned frequently by the press in connection with her portraiture. One reporter referred to her “tiny attractive studio at the top of one of the houses in Arlington Villas” and how she always had “a number of delightful paintings in the Royal West of England Academy Exhibition”. She produced numerous portraits during this period including for local dignitaries. She also completed an ‘Infant Samuel’ for a church in Wales, in which the “background of very wonderful blue” closely resembled “the vivid yet soft shade of that colour which early Italian artists loved so dearly.”

Gulley ultimately became a member of the Royal West of England Academy, spending the latter stages of her life in Clifton. She’s represented in the Royal Collection Trust and at Bristol City Museum.

Signed in the lower right and held within its original frame.

Learn more about Catherine Gulley RWA in our directory.

Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 22½” x 29½” / 58cm x 73cm
Year of creation: c. 1910
Labels & Inscriptions: Exhibition label on the reverse with the artist's name, address and title. Possibly from the Royal West of England Academy.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Frame with light marks and signs of age.
Artist’s auction maximum: £3,200 for ‘News From Afar’, Watercolour, Sotheby's, Early English Drawings and Victorian Watercolours, London, 1988 (lot 411).
Our reference: BRV1775

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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