Painting, 'Portrait Study of a Lady in a yellow Dress (possibly a Self Portrait)' by Emma Sandys (1841-1877), oil on panel, undated; 37 cm x 29.5 cm
Frederick Sandys’ sister, Emma Sandys, although less well-known than her brother, was a talented painter in her own right. She spent most of her short life in Norwich, although also exhibited in London. Her work was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites; she often painted women in medieval dress, gazing introspectively as if day-dreaming.
Her model in this painting is depicted wearing a sumptuous yellow dress and a thick amber necklace. In the background Sandys painted a medieval Flemish tapestry, which she would have seen in the Norfolk and Norwich Museum before its move to Norwich Castle, as the tapestry has been in our collections since 1861. It depicts a scene from the story of Bellerophon, the Greek hero who, according to mythology, defeated the fire-breathing monster Chimaera. It is not known who Sandys’ model is, although it has been suggested that the painting is a self-portrait.