A young orange-seller in a red paisley shawl holds a sprig of vibrant cornflowers. She does not smile and meet the spectator’s gaze, as in contemporary popular depictions of pretty coster girls, but neither is she presented as an object of pity. Her demeanor is mature, even businesslike, as she stares pensively out-of-frame. She may be unduly burdened by adult responsibilities, but she is not without her resources.
The Irish Girl is a pendant to The English Boy; a regal portrait of the artist’s five-year-old son holding his toys (a top and whip) like an orb and scepter.