Serena Mary Dunn, the Right Hon. The Lady Rothschild (b 1935)

Artist or maker:
Andrews, Michael (b.1928, d.1995)
Place of production:
England, United Kingdom
oil on canvas
Type of object:
Accession number:


Michael Andrews painted Serena, Lady Rothschild, in a simple interior without any signs of wealth or status. She wears a jacket and shirt reminiscent of riding clothes, evoking her passion for race horse training. Serena's detached expression is characteristic of Andrew's studies of introspection or even loneliness.

Andrews is widely regarded as one of the most important British portrait painters of the latter part of the 20th century. He trained at the Slade from 1949-1953, and rose to prominence in the 1960s with his paintings of the London social scene. His works are admired for revealing his deep understanding of his subjects; his exploration of human behaviour in general; and the psychological relationships that make up the lives of his sitters. His paintings often have the quality of detached observation whilst maintaining a rich, painterly feel.

In the late 1980s after more than a decade of exploring landscape, Andrews returned to portraiture, which had dominated his work in the 1950s. He is reported as stating: 'I had this terrific urge to be among people again, painting them: people with whom I feel no generation gap'. He painted a series of straightforward portraits, described as 'Living witnesses' (Feaver, 2001). The group included a self-portrait, as well as portraits of his wife, Serena, Jane Willoughby and her uncle David Astor, former editor of the 'Observer'. The portrait of Serena is similar in appearance to Andrews's 'Portrait of Jane Willoughby' also painted in 1989-91 (collection of Elaine and Melvin Merians).

Phillippa Plock, 2012

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
407 x 356
Signature & date:
signed and dated on verso: [?] 1989-1991


Purchased by a Rothschild Family Trust, 1992.
Exhibition history:
'Michael Andrews', The Grey Art Gallery, New York, January - 14 March 1992

'Michael Andrews', Tate Britain, 19 July - 30 September 2001, no. 91
Waddesdon (Rothschild Family)
On loan since 1995



William Feaver, Paul Moorhouse; Michael Andrews; Tate Britain, London, 19 July - 7 October 2001; London; Tate Publishing; 2001; p. 155, cat. no. 91, ill.; as 'Portrait of Serena'
William Feaver; An Actual Present Atmosphere; William Feaver, Paul Moorhouse, Michael Andrews, London, Tate Britain, London, 19 July - 7 October 2001, Tate Publishing, 2001; p. 59

Indexed terms