Rita by Mary Gwendolyn Galloway (c. 1925)
Rita was one of Mary’s sisters. Mary herself was born in 1906 (died 1999) so would have been in her late teens or early twenties when she painted this portrait.
I love the painting for its size (a surprisingly compact 19.5 x 14.3cm), simplicity and subject matter – a domestic scene with cat and cactus. It reinforces a lot for me on the houseplant history front: the plant stand looks typically Edwardian and, as previously described, cacti enjoyed a boom in popularity in the interwar years.
There isn’t much out there about Mary Galloway. She seemed to be rooted in Carmarthenshire. She was a pupil at the old Carmarthen Art School, Art Mistress at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Girls (1953–1967) and her family ran a successful bakery and toy shop in the town.
Complete thanks, as ever, to Art UK for the artist information.