This is a self-portrait of Evelyn Chapman. She painted it with oil on canvas in 1911 and it was donated to the Portrait Gallery by her daughter Pamela Thalben-Ball in 2007. The work measures about 1 m high by 80 cm wide in its frame. The frame consists of a slender gold gilt inner rim, surrounded by a wider outer rim in dark wood with a carved leaf pattern.

Light falls on Evelyn’s pale face and ivory coloured shawl, floating amid deep shadow. The rich blacks and browns of her hat, hair and dress merge into the dark background. Evelyn’s head is turned to the viewer, while her body, seated, is angled to the left of the image with her left elbow cocked, hand propped up on her hip. The painting style is realistic, with some visible brush strokes and other areas where tones are blended together. The portrait is in soft focus, not overly detailed, and with contrasts of light and dark creating form and depth.

The background of the painting is dark browns with patches of red-browns and greys.

Evelyn’s face is in the upper centre of the composition. She wears a large black hat, orange-brown swirls suggesting ornamentation on the crown, a wide brim, and dark hair, barely discernible from the hat, curling over her forehead.

Evelyn has straight dark eyebrows, dark eyes cast down to the right of the scene. She has a straight nose, pink-tinted cheeks, and full warm red lips in a closed rosebud. Her round chin has a crease running down the centre.

The collar of her dark dress rests just beneath her jaw, encircling her neck, dappled with grey and pink. A sumptuous cream shawl is draped over Evelyn’s shoulders, light reflecting off the thick folds of fabric that flow down over her front. The ends of the shawl spill onto her lap, with the left end tied in a knot.
Beneath the shawl, Evelyn’s dress is deep brown-black. Her left sleeve finishes just below the elbow, trimmed with a cuff patterned in turquoise-green and pink. Evelyn’s left hand is propped on her hip, fingers splayed over her shawl. Her right hand, ring finger adorned with gold rings, rests over the length of shawl over her right leg.

The portrait is cropped just below Evelyn’s lap, with her faint signature in white on the bottom right.

Audio description written by Lucinda Shawcross and voiced by Amy Middleby