This painting depicts an elderly refugee from Liege in Belgium. The German army invaded Belgium in August 1914 in the opening days of the First World War, and as a result 250,000 Belgians sought safety in the UK. This was the largest wave of refugees ever to come to Britain. Glasgow Corporation Belgian Refugee Committee was responsible for finding homes for the refugees across Scotland, and many were housed in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. After the war, most of the refugees returned home. Almost 100 years later, Glasgow continues to offer new homes to those who have had to leave their own countries due to war and oppression.
Norah Neilson Gray (1882–1931) grew up in Helensburgh and moved to Glasgow with her family around 1901. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art and later went on to teach there. During the First World War she worked in France as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. This is regarded as one of her strongest portraits and was awarded a bronze medal when exhibited in Paris in 1921.
Where to see this painting?
Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC)
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