William Strang - Lady with a Red Hat
The lady in this portrait is the famous writer and gardener, Vita Sackville-West. The strong colours of her outfit and her commanding pose vividly convey her flamboyant personality. She shocked Edwardian society because of her affairs with other women.
Scottish-born Strang was a well-known etcher but after 1900 began concentrating on oil painting and became very successful, particularly in the field of portraiture. Vita was one of several distinguished figures of the period who sat for him.
Vita is remembered today for her most famous novel, 'The Edwardians' and for the garden she created at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent. She was celebrated in society as a member of the Bloomsbury group of intellectuals and even had her lesbian affair with Virginia Woolf immortalized in the latter’s novel ‘Orlando’.
Assertively posed, with her elbow extended, Strang brilliantly captures her colourful character. She epitomises the new woman of her time – stylish, confident, an independent thinker.
The picture was bought by Glasgow Museums in 1919, the year after it was painted.