Self-Portrait, the Striped Blouse
"Self-Portrait, the Striped Blouse" shows Abercrombie standing to the right of a table upon which rests a fruit bowl containing grapes. Abercrombie wears a black and white striped blouse and a skirt. A flat-brimmed hat, ubiquitous in her work around 1940, sits on her head. She rests the heel of her right hand on the edge of the fruit bowl and plucks a red grape from the vine with her thumb and forefinger. The artist's face - indeed her whole body - emerges slowly from darkness, deliberately poised between a shadowy, hard to define realm and a place of eerie illumination. Abercrombie has depicted her sharp features - the distinctive nose and chin - with unflattering fidelity. She has also captured a distant, otherworldly expression that relates to her vision in painting. Rather than direct her gaze at the viewer, to connect eyes and root the picture in a direct relationship to the real, she looks away, even inward rather than at some distant object beyond the picture plane. Behind her a thick red and magenta curtain reveals a nocturnal landscape, bare except for a single strange tree. The landscape glows with ambient moonlight. While it is tempting to see this as a window onto the outside world, it could also be an early instance of Abercrombie's often-employed picture within a picture. The view itself closely resembles Abercrombie's invented dream landscapes synthesized from memories of childhood and her fantasy world.