The Belfast-born, Glasgow-educated artist Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was superficially similar to his contemporary, John Singer Sargent. Along with Sargent and James McNeill Whistler, Lavery was one of the most sought-after portraitists of his day. His reputation was assured after he was asked to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria to Glasgow. He went on to paint many famous contemporaries such as Winston Churchill and Anna Pavlova. In 1917, during the First World War, he was appointed Official War Artist. Portrait of a Woman in Black Leaning on a Grand Piano was painted in 1904. His sitter was Miss Elizabeth Welsh (1843–1921), Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge, between 1885 and 1903. The painting is held by the National Gallery of Art in Rome.
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