A beautiful, sensitive portrait on England's south coast. Chevallier Tayler's forte with the female form and costume is much in evidence. Tayler’s youngest son was killed in action that year (August 1918) and one has to wonder if that personal narrative is subliminally expressed in his lovely rendering of a young woman lost in thought, whilst WW1 rages on the other side of the channel.
As a young man and aspiring artist, Albert Chevallier Tayler, like so many of his soon to be contemporaries in Newlyn, travelled to Paris where he studied at Laurens Atelier. There he drew upon the influence of the new generation of en plein-air French natural realists.
Tayler returned from Paris aged 22 and arrived in Newlyn in 1884 where he was soon at the heart of the artists’ burgeoning colony. During Tayler’s Newlyn period he initially produced social realist scenes en plein-air absorbing his Parisian training and drawing upon the influence of his Newlyn associates. But as time progressed a preference for more harmonious and often richly decorated scenes became the artist's oeuvre.
Chevallier Tayler was particularly gifted in painting human subjects and costume, both contemporary and historical, and this talent is evident in 'Lost in thought'. During the 1890s Tayler maintained connections with the art centre of London and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. In 1895 he served on the provisional committee of artists when Newlyn Art Gallery, opened on 22 October 1895, but soon after moved to London settling in Kensington, later there becoming a Royal Academician. Despite non-residence in Cornwall, Tayler continued to sell paintings at the Newlyn Art Gallery and to enjoy painting expeditions to the south west. 'Lost in thought', painted in 1918, is a product of one such painting trip.
In 1896 Tayler had married Mrs Elizabeth Cotes, the daughter of a surgeon to the Royal Household. Together the couple had two sons, both of whom were killed on active service in the First World War, the younger in the RAF, the year of this work. One has to wonder therefore if ‘Lost in thought’ is an expression of Tayler’s own anxiety or grief as WW1 continues to rage across the English Channel with his sons in the thick of it.