This is one of a number of portraits that Lambert painted of young girls. The subject was probably Mary Mond (1901–1937), the eleven-year-old daughter of the British industrialist and politician Sir Alfred Mon BT (1868–1930), later first Baron Melchett and one of the founders of
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).
Lambert depicted the young girl sitting slightly precariously on the elegant sofa. He presented her with her face in profile in a version of the Whistler’s mother pose, but without the rigorous simplification of that painting. Indeed, he showed Mary as a pretty young miss with rosy cheeks, hair in ringlets and wearing a frilly white dress. The fluffy white dog nearby, looking up at her attentively and painted in a similar range of whites to her dress, suggests that she may have had some of the cuteness and cuddliness of this dog.
In his depiction of the decorative fabric on the sofa, the floral carpet and the Japanese screen, this portrait is unusual for Lambert. This luscious background is indicative of the wealth with which Mary Mond was surrounded.
Portraits of children can be found throughout the history of art, but they were particularly popular during the Edwardian era – an era which also saw the creation of memorable children’s books such as J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (1904), Kenneth Grahame’s The wind in the willows (1908)andthe many stories by Beatrix Potter.