|James Gunn studied at the Glasgow School Art and Edinburgh College of Art before moving to Paris in 1911 where he entered the Académie Julian. By 1929 he had established himself as a portrait painter and worked very successfully in this field, receiving commissions from prime ministers, leading literary figures and royalty. |
Gunn married his second wife, Pauline, in 1929 and she was the model for some of his most successful works. The setting for this painting is the lobby of Claridge’s. In the foreground Pauline is painted in sharp detail, while behind her, in softer focus, Gunn depicts the life of the hotel – a woman lighting her friend’s cigarette, the waiter and the pianist. Unlike his other more straightforward portraits, Pauline Waiting has a slight narrative element, with a frisson of suggestiveness as to whom Pauline may be waiting for in this smart London hotel.