A man speaking to a seated girl (1802-1836 (c.)) by Philippus Velyn.

A man speaking to a seated girl (1802-1836 (c.)) by Philippus Velyn.

She must have felt very intimated speaking to a well-dressed gentleman with a walking stick staring down at her. Or perhaps she didn’t know any different. Being spoken down to may well have been probably normal for the majority of girls in early nineteenth-century Britain. Quite in contrast to the gentleman’s naturalistic pose, her pose, with her left hand rested upon her cheek and her eyes looking down to the grass (averting the gentleman’s gaze), almost reminds me of a Greek statue. His shadow is cast over her.

Sitting next to dying winter trees with few leaves left on their withering branches and a small stream, her body language and facial expression looks miserable, but it is impossible to know for sure why.

The gentleman’s left hand is reaching for something, perhaps a letter, a contract or an object of importance. It is as if she was walking through the woods in the hope of escaping something when the gentleman found her. Or perhaps they were walking with their dog in the woods. But the dog is lying down. Clearly it is either a well-trained dog or they have been talking for a while.

But what are they talking about? It is difficult to establish the relationship between the man and the girl, which would help answer this question. They both look quite young. Their elegant, smart clothes indicate that they are at the very least gentry status, perhaps even aristocrats. They may a young couple having an argument, young suitors in a dilemma over their feelings for each other, a brother and sister having a conversation about a particular problem or a father telling his daughter some bad news.

-Richard Bennett
Junior Boy
Girl Museum Inc.

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