Portrait of Daphne, 1939-1943

DIMENSIONS: (unframed)16.0 x 12.0 in./40.6 x 30.5 cm
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Daphne was the subject of a number of paintings and drawings by Spencer, and for works such as this she would pose daily for two to three weeks. It is known that Spencer would often reduce Daphne to tears in order for her to express some emotion in her face. For a self-confident, self-assured and remarkably independent woman, this was no mean feat, and Daphne remarked that no-one else would be capable of it, stating, “I don’t know how, he had the power”.

Catalogue No: 5347 Categories: ,


This painting depicts Daphne Charlton, a lively source of inspiration to Spencer. After his failed and passionless second marriage to Patricia, Daphne became a source of vigor and spontaneity for Spencer. He would frequently draw her going about everyday tasks upon his numerous visits to her and her husband’s marital home in Hampstead. It was on a painting holiday in rural Gloucestershire that their affair began, lasting from 1939 until after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1941.  Daphne was a very dominant, intelligent character who was notably taller than Spencer, despite the fact that in many of his drawings of her he made them the same height.

Interestingly Daphne’s husband, George Charlton, and Spencer had known each other for many years, and got on with one another very well. Two of Spencer’s most revered portraits of Daphne, The Woolshop, and Daphne both hang today in London’s Tate Britain.

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