Go back

Mary Waters

Woman with White Turban, 2008

Waters’ Woman with White Turban is clearly inspired by Portrait of Madeleine, painted by the French artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1768-1828). This work was first exhibited at the Louvre in 1800, and it is still on display at the Parisian museum. We now know that ‘Madeleine’ was probably born into... slavery. At the time of posing for Benoist, the French government had abolished slavery, but the question remains of how free ‘Madeleine’ really was: Benoist’s family were involved in plantations and Napoleon (1769-1821) reintroduced slavery a few years later. Mary Waters (1957) studied at the College of Art in Limerick, Ireland, and subsequently conducted research into paintings from the 14th to 19th century. She uses reproductions of works by these old masters as the inspiration for her (double) portraits and still lifes. The brushstrokes are hardly visible, and the emphasis is on the flat surface. The use of cultural icons has a deeper charge for Waters. With her roots in Ireland, a country with a history of colonisation and poverty, she sees Western icons as ‘alien’ to ordinary people. Waters believes that imposing images and grand portraits communicate a sense of superiority and otherness. And yet the beauty and extravagance holds an irresistible appeal. Text: Boris Ariaens, guide and museum host
Read more Show less
Mary Waters
Woman with White Turban
Oil on canvas
165 x 140 cm (h x w)
Type of object
© Pictoright