Not currently on display at the V&A

A woman holding a mirror and a rose

Oil Painting
ca.1880-1890 (painted)
Place Of Origin

An oil painting of a young woman dressed in a flowing pink dress with red accessories, holding aloft a mirror and a rose.

object details
Object Type
Additional TitleL'Allegra (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Oil on millboard
Brief Description
Oil painting entitled 'A Woman Holding a Mirror and a Rose' by George Henry Boughton. Great Britain, ca.1880-1890.
Physical Description
An oil painting of a young woman dressed in a flowing pink dress with red accessories, holding aloft a mirror and a rose.
  • Estimate height: 28.75in
  • Estimate width: 15.875in
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Marks and Inscriptions
'G H B' (Signed by the artist)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Henry Louis Florence
Object history
Bequeathed by Henry L. Florence, 1916

Historical significance: A painter and illustrator, George Henry Boughton (1833-1905) was brought up in America, studied in Paris, and finally settled in London in 1862. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1879 and a full member in 1896, and in 1879 he was elected a member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours. Boughton painted landscapes, genre subjects, portraits and historical scenes; idealised and rather sentimental female figures were a typical aspect of his work.

This painting is probably to be identified with 'L'Allegra', a painting by Boughton which was lent by its then owner Henry Florence to the Whitechapel Fine Art exhibition of 1894 (no. 119). He also lent another painting, 'La Penserosa' (no. 151), which is probably P.57-1917. The theme has its origin in John Milton's poems 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso', on the subject of what we would now call the extrovert and the introvert character, and the particular pleasures enjoyed by each. In traditional flower symbolism, the rose held by the figure in 'L'Allegra' implies love, whilst the marguerite held by the figure in 'La Penserosa' symbolises innocence, purity, faith, cheer and simplicity.

Despite differences in scale, the common compositional aspects of the single female figure standing on flowery turf against a gold background strongly suggest that the paintings 'L'Allegra' and 'La Penserosa' are a pair. They were both originally made as decorative panels for a piece of furniture, from which they had been removed before arriving at the V&A.

These two paintings by Boughton were bequeathed to the V&A in 1916 by Henry L. Florence of Prince's Gate, South Kensington, London. The bequest also included paintings by Brangwyn, Clausen, Corot, Leighton and Fantin-Latour.
Associated Object
Accession Number

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record createdAugust 3, 2006
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