New light shed on the mysterious Madam Errazuriz
Date: 17 June 2014
So just who is the woman in Sir William Orpen’s beautiful painting Madame Errazuriz (1915)?
Is she the Chilean patron of modernism and the dashing figure in the Paris of the 1920s, who inspired Pablo Picasso and even Coco Chanel?
Earlier this year, a man in Chile was browsing through the Culture Victoria website.
He found on the site the portrait of a Chilean woman to whom he is related, but noticed that the woman was incorrectly identified. So he emailed Culture Victoria.
And that thrust Sir Orpen’s painting into the spotlight.
The email was sent by JCB, a Chilean art collector and relative of Mrs Maria Errazuriz, who died in 1972.
The email claimed the picture is of Maria Errazuriz (nee Edwards) and not Eugenia Errazuriz (nee Huici) as previously thought – though both women were known as Madame Errazuriz.
The painting was donated to the City of Mildura through the R.D Elliott bequest in 1956 by Mrs Hilda Elliott and forms part of Mildura Arts Centre’s permanent collection.
Mildura Rural City Council confirmed that on 12 March this year, Mildura Arts Centre received advice from Culture Victoria, the Victorian Government’s website dedicated to stories from Victoria’s cultural collections, including a selection of works from the Elliott bequest, regarding the painting.
In subsequent correspondence between Mildura Arts Centre and JCB, further evidence was provided, including photographic images that match the person in the portrait.
As the painting is a significant artwork in the permanent collection, Mildura Arts Centre is now looking to formally adopt the amendment to its records regarding the true identity of the woman in the portrait.
Who could doubt the power of making our cultural collections available online?
Madame Errazuriz 1915, by Sir William Orpen is on display at Mildura Arts Centre until 10 August 2014 as part of The Case for Modern Painting exhibition.
Find out more about the Madame Errazuriz painting on the Culture Victoria website