"The artist's wife Ellen, nee Smith, was a tall, handsome woman. She was a country girl originally from Greytown in the Wairarapa. On her mother's side, however, she had family connections in the Hutt Valley dating from the early days of settlement, and it is probable that while on a visit to relatives still living in the area she met Nairn.40 In March 1898 they were married. She was only nineteen at the time, he was thirty-eight.41 Marriage appears to have heightened Nairn's interest in the representation of young women and thereafter his wife became his favourite model. In his subsequent portrait studies of her he captures not only her admirable physical attributes but also her youthfulness and acknowledged zest for life. In the small portrait head inscribed Nell (Figure 15, catalogue no. 154), painted the year after their marriage, Nairn emphasizes by pictorial means some of her natural liveliness by introducing the strong red background to accentuate her red lips and rosy cheeks and to complement the blue bodice she wears. "
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