By Ralph Peacock

By Ralph Peacock
In the Tate Gallery, London

Although Mr. Peacock had been known as a gifted painter for some years before he exhibited "Ethel" at the Royal Academy of 1898 (the year in which he painted the picture), the occasion marked his first great success with the general public. The canvas was purchased for the nation under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest, and is among the most popular of all those in the Tate Gallery.

The painter has caught the subtle charm of girlhood, and has pictured it in a singularly charming manner. While the pose is somewhat suggestive of Whistler, the colouring and general treatment are marked by the painter's own individuality, and it may be accounted a triumph for him that his work stands on its own merit, challenging no comparison, but only suggesting a similarity to that of the Master as an afterthought.

The young girl occupied with "the long, long thoughts of youth," is also the younger of the two girls in "The Sisters," which appeared in the Royal Academy two years later.

It often happens that the thoughts of youth are not quite what they seem to be. "Ethel" to judge by her expression, is meditating anything but mischief, yet at the time the picture was being painted, a daring thought was taking shape in her mind which she put into execution behind the artist's back.

"The sitter confessed to me, some years after," he told the writer, "that when the picture was finished she took a paint brush out of the studio, and put a minute streak of orange or scarlet right in the middle of the forehead as her sign manual. It is there still. I own I have never looked for it, but I am quite sure it is there if she says so."

From the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913.

Large files of this public domain print are available at Stock Photos at Songs of Praise
(Firefox users must click again on the large photo to see the very large image.)

Online "Name the Painting"

Ralph Peacock
at Art Cyclopedia

1908 Wedding Notice
New York Times archive

Page Comments

Most Recent Comments ( See more comments on this page )
Hello June
I am the grandson of Albert Brignall, Edith and Ethel's brother. Edith married Ralph. Ethel Married Harold Titcomb, a very successful US Mining Engineer, from Farmington in Maine, who secured commissions for Ralph to paint US President Herbert Hoover etc. I have several of his profile portraits and a painting Gladys Cooper but "Ethel" is currently on display in the Tate as an example of 1900-1910 painting
Peter Hebard
My husband is a direct descendant of Edith and Ethel Brignall. Their Aunt Charlotte Matilda Brignall, married John Jarman. John Jarman was his Great Grandfather.Do you have any dates for the marriage of Ethel and Ralph Peacock?? Please.
June jarman
June Jarman
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King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Sir Edward Coley

The Mill

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Pascal Adolphe Jean

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C.W. Furse

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W.H. Gore


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Jean Baptiste Greuze

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In His Hand

Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors

Henry Holiday

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Sir Edwin Landseer


Sir Edwin Landseer

A Naughty Child

H.H. La Thangue

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Sir Thomas Lawrence

Caroline of Brunswick,
Queen of George IV.

G.D. Leslie

Sun and Moon Flowers

J. Seymour Lucas


Jean Louis Ernest

The Print Collector

Jean Francois Millet

The Angelus

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Going to Work

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Ralph Peacock



His Own Portrait

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Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Strawberry Girl

George Romney

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W. Dendy Sadler

A Good Story

W. Dendy Sadler


William Small

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J.M.W. Turner

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J.M.W. Turner

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"La Femme a L'Eventail"

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The Vagrants

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James McNeill Whistler

My Mother

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Famous Paintings