Here we have a fascinating scene from a one room rural school. There are two school mistrisses. We would guess that this painting is British, perhaps Welsh. I am not sure about the date, but would guess about the 1880s or 90s. Many of the children were wearing tams, both boys and girls. A lot of the children also wear pinafpres. The reason we think that this might be Welsh is that the fancy white bonnet that one of the girls wears. A HBC reader, however, does mot believe that it is a Welsh bonnet. He points us to a Welsh site which gives an idea of traditional Welsh costume. He reports, I believe that the boys caps are more of a clue, they look like Scottish tams to me." The boys seem to be mostly wearing kneepants. We are not positive if the child by the window wearing a pinafore is a boy or girl. The boy at the left wears kneepants. We are not sure why he is so unhappy. Notice that boys and girls are being educated together.
A British reader has identified the portrait. "I found that the painting is on exhibition in Penlee House, Penzance. The Curator writes, 'The painting is called'School is Out' (1889) by Elizabeth Forbes. This painting depicts the schoolroom in the small village of Paul, just outside Newlyn. It was painted in 1889, shortly before Elizabeth's marriage to Stanhope Forbes. Elizabeth was extremely fond of children and portrayed them in a number of her works. In 1904 she exhibited works at the Leicester Gallery, in an exhibition entitled 'Children and Child
Lore'. Iam not sure if the bonnets are 'Cornish' or just typical of the period nationwide."
So we now know who the artist was and the date and location. What we do not know is how to describe the clothing, especially the bonnets and tams. It is interesting to see how these traditional fashions were being worn in the late-19th century,
Elizabeth Forbes was known for her fishing scenes, child figures and populated landscapes near Newlyn, Cornwall. She aklso made prints. She was born in Canada (1859). She was raised in England. She attended the South Kensington School of Art in London. Shecestablished herself in London. She traveled to New York (1877). She enrolled at the Art Students League. Among the teachers was William Merritt Chase She also worked with him at Zandvoort, near Haarlem, Holland (summer 1884). The exhibited her work at the Royal Academy of London and the Royal Society of Painters/Etchers (1885). She gained entry as an elected an associate member of the Royal Watercolor Society.
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