Leonardo, La Belle Ferronnière


Leonardo da Vinci, La Gioconda, 1503-1506, oil on poplar panel, 73 x 53 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

This is possibly the most recognisable painting in the history of art.
In a recent discussion, I said that I preferred a painting, attributed to Leonardo, which is also in the Louvre, but in a less prominent position.


Leonard da Vinci, attrib., Ritrato di Dama or La Belle Ferronnière, 1490-96, oil on wood, 62 x 44 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The painting’s title, applied as early as the seventeenth century, identifying the sitter as the wife or daughter of an ironmonger, ferronnier, was said to be discreetly alluding to a reputed mistress of Francis I of France, married to a certain Le Ferron. The tale is a romantic legend of revenge in which the aggrieved husband intentionally infects himself with syphilis, which he passes to the king through infecting his wife.
Although the model of the painting La Belle Ferronniere is still shrouded in mystery, she was possibly Beatrice d’Este, wife of Ludovico Sforza,   challenges the portrait’s earlier attribution to Lucrezia Crivelli, a mistress of Ludovico.


Leonardo da Vinci, La Dama con l’Ermelino, 1489-90, oil on panel, 54 x 39 cm, National Museum, Crakow, Poland

The portrait’s subject is Cecilia Gallerani, painted at a time when she was the mistress of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and Leonardo was in the Duke’s service. It is one of only four portraits of women painted by Leonardo, the others being the Mona Lisa, the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, and La belle ferronnière.


Detail from La Dama con l’Ermelino and La Belle Ferronnière

La Belle Ferronnière is attributed to Leonardo, although, as with so many paintings of the time, there is probably more than on hand.

Speaking of attribution, there is now serious concern about the painter of the lately purchased Salvator Mundi


Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c1500, oil on walnut panel, 66 x 45 cm, Louvre, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has indefinitely postponed putting on display the painting bought for a world record price of $450.3m in 2017. Because its authenticity has been the focus of so much speculation, experts are wondering whether there may be new revelations to come about whether or not it is definitely a Leonardo.

And this one is a real mystery:


Unknown, after Leonardo da Vinci, The Isleworth Mona Lisa, date?, oil on canvas, 85 x 65 cm, Private Collection, Switzerland

This version of the Mona Lisa was bought in 1914 by the artist and critic Hugh Blaker, who lived in Isleworth, in West London. Unlike the Louvre’s Mona Lisa, around 1503-19, the painting is done on canvas, whereas the original is on panel. It has columns on the sides of the picture and the landscape is very simple. Blacker reported that the picture had come from a Somerset aristocratic collection. In 1962, the painting was bought by the UK based art collector Henry Pulitzer, who exhibited it very briefly in Phoenix, Arizona, in a commercial gallery. It has now disappeared, but is probably in a private collection, locked away in Basel, Switzerland.

BT, Meeting No27, 16 October, 2018


Juan Miró, “Masterpieces”

These three images were exhibited, believe it not, in the Tate in London in 2013


Joan Miró, Painting on a White Background, for the cell of a recluse, I, II & III, 1968

Look, the Emperor has no clothes!

“These three paintings consist of no more than a single thin black line meandering vaguely diagonally across the dry, smudgy white of a canvas primed with acrylic. The lines reveal themselves to be composed of separate strokes building up shorter segments that thicken and thin as the brush is lifted off the surface and returns to it, resembling the sections of a stem of bamboo rather than a single reed.
Miró’s phrase of the hand breathing again comes to mind and is echoed in the viewer’s physical response as one in turn approaches the surface for a closer look or steps back to experience the rhythm of the threefold repetition of the calligraphic sign.”
Marko Daniel is co-curator of Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape, at Tate Modern.

But, it gets worse:


“With a blank white background punctuated by a grey line, to the untrained eye, Joan Miró’s masterpiece could be mistaken for a slightly cracked wall.” (my highlights)

And it appears that one visitor to a Miró exhibition at Tate Modern may have been so mistaken, damaging a £20 million painting when steadying himself with both hands against the work after tripping and falling. The slip up cost the tax payer more than £200,000. Painting on White Background for the Cell of a Recluse I, 1968, one of five rare triptychs by the Catalan artist that were shown together for the first time at a recent retrospective of his work, underwent emergency repairs after the incident, which is believed to have caused dents and marking on the picture’s surface.
The acrylic on canvas triptych was on loan to the Tate from the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona. The Government has paid out £203,000 to the Foundation, to cover the repair costs and the painting’s loss in value following the damage.

Well, I never!

Here are two paintings of Miró, dating from a period when his work made sense:


Joan Miró, Les cartes espagnoles, 1920, oil on canvas, 64 x 70 cm, Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, USA


Joan Miró, Caballo, pipa y flor roja, 1920, oil on canvas, 83 x 75 cm, Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA

But, go back almost a hundred years. Were these paintings ridiculed in the same way?

BT, Meeting No27, 16 October, 2018

Laura Knight, Gypsies

Laura’s friends from the circus, Ally and Joe Bert, introduced her to the spectacle of a race meeting, both from the perspective of the spectators in the stands and the gaily attired gypsy fortune-tellers. After Joe’s death Knight continued to accompany his widow Ally to the races and on one occasion Mrs Bert introduced her to Mr Sully, who owned a Rolls Royce that had driven Joe’s coffin to his funeral. The car was also used to take bridal parties to church at weekends but as it was available during the week, Knight suggested that Sully should drive her and Ally to the races every day during the racing season or to the gypsy camp at Iver to paint the wrinkled visage of Granny Smith or the beautiful raven-haired Beulah. On race days the spacious vehicle was parked on the slopes of the race-track and its elevated position and commodious interior allowed Knight to work on canvases as large as A Dull Day at Epsom, protected from inclement weather or glaring sunshine.

KnightLDullDay Laura Knight, A Dull Day at Epsom, c1940, oil on canvas, 64 x 76 cm, Private Collection

This picture, painted from the open door of Sully’s Rolls Royce circa 1940, captures the excitement of race-day, with one spectator standing on the roof of her car to watch the horses as they gallop past and another scrambling up the back of his vehicle with binoculars clasped to his eyes. The grandstand and its crowd dominates the background but the empty foreground behind the line of cars parked behind the press-tent, demonstrates Knight’s ability to place herself in a more backstage setting, just as she did when she painted ballerinas and circus performers in their dressing-rooms or behind the curtain of an auditorium. These pictures convey the more intimate scenes that Knight was able to witness, as an accepted part of the peripheral life of the racing community and not simply an observer viewing from a physical and social distance.

While at Newlyn, Alfred Munnings often went to country horse fairs and sometimes went off with the gypsies he met. Because of his love of horses, Munnings was also a regular at the race meetings at Ascot and Epsom. He suggested to Laura that these would be good places to go to find subject matter. Laura liked horses and and had painted many during her circus days, but she found that is was the people in the race day crowds which interested her most, especial the gypsies who moved among them, telling fortunes and selling trinkets.

Top left: Laura Knight, Ascot Finery, 1936-38, oil on canvas, Art Gallery, Dundee, UK
Top right: Laura Knight, Epsom Downs, 1938 & Laura Knight, Gypsies at Ascot, 1933, oil on canvas, Museum & Art Gallery, Hereford, UK
Bottom left: Laura Knight, Gypsies on Epsom Downs, oil on canvas, Dumfries, UK
Bottom right: Laura Knight, Romany Belles, 1938, oil on canvas, Art Gallery, Aberdeen, UK

The press took delight in her eccentricity and made her headline news.

Responding to the circumstances, Laura was employing a more sketchy technique than is evident in many of the Circus paintings. The Gypsy paintings are as fresh and bright today as the finery worn by her subjects on those auspicious race days. They were willing to stand and pose for their portraits, that is, if she crossed their palms with silver!

Laura visited the gypsy camps on many occasions and painted people in their own home. Her subjects were often suspicious of her but her friendliness and honesty usually won them over. These were painted at Iver, in Buckinghamshire, a few miles away from Ascot.

Left: Laura Knight, Gypsies at Home, oil on canvas, 76 x 97 cm, Private Collection
Right: Laura Knight, Gypsy Waggon & Tent, date?, oil on canvas, Private Collection & Laura Knight, The Little Beggar, 1947, oil on canvas

Perhaps the most poignant and important paintings of this time are her gypsy portraits, which form a unique record of the people she met in the camps.


Laura Knight, Hop-Picking Granny Knowles, an Old Hand, 1940

The family she came to know best were the Smiths, With Granny (Lilo) one of her nine sons, Gilderoy, and his daughter in law, Freedom, whom Laura chose to call Beulah

Left: Laura Knight, Old Gypsy Woman, 1938, oil on canvas, Private Collection
Right: Laura Knight, Fine Feathers or Gypsy Splendour, 1939, oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm, Castle Museum & Art Centre, Nottingham, UK

On the right, Granny Smith is dressed ready to go to Ascot. Laura lent her the hat.


Laura Knight, The Gypsy, c1937, oil on canvas, 61 x 41 cm, Tate Gallery, London, UK.

This is Gilderoy.  Laura wrote on 15 November 1957: “He, a gentleman called Mr Smith, one wet day, at Iver, Bucks, in the camp there near the railway, posed for me in a little lean-to tent – just a corner in shelter, crowded by a big double bed where an old gipsy and his wife slept. I painted it in 3 or 4 hours. … I haven’t anything more to say about that Mr Smith except that he figures in several other pictures I painted at Iver – one in particular, his whole family which is somewhere in Scotland – wife, three children and his mother, a beautiful old Romany, queen of the camp.”

Left: Laura Knight, Beulah on top of the Hills, 1959, oil on canvas, 119 x 66 cm
Right: Laura Knight, Beulah, the Gypsy Girl, oil on canvas, 76 x 61 cm, Private Collection

“Beulah’s wagon, shared with her husband, was a picture of shiny ornamental looking-glass, inlet panelling, white bed linen and polished brass and copper – all spotlessly clean. Many wet days I spent inside at work, crouched in a corner close against a lot of hanging garments. I never tired of painting Beulah, typical of her race in her aloofness and resignation to whatever happened: as an animal does not look ahead but takes whatever comes. Her body and limbs were primitive in column of muscle and bone, in movement and relaxation. To say she was beautiful is not enough: apart from perfection of mould, she bore the mark of tragedy as well. Hard would be the clench of those white teeth; and right to the bone they would bite. Although I painted her so much, I never heard her history.” (The Magic of Line, The Autobiography of Laura Knight D.B.E., R.A., 1965, p. 253)

And lastly, three portraits of Freedom Smith:

Laura Knight, Beulah, oil on canvas, 62 x 39 cm, Private Collection
Laura Knight, Beulah No2, oil on canvas, 60 x 38 cm, Private Collection
Laura Knight, Beulah No3, oil on canvas, 61 x 39 cm, Private Collection

BT, Meeting No27, 16 October, 2018

The Newlyn School

There are a considerable number of well-known painters who are said to have joined the artists’ colony. I am talking today about the artists who worked there for several consecutive years before the place was “known”, that is to say, before it was flooded with painters and speculative building.
After that time, the “swells” came down for holidays, calling themselves artists, taking all the available lodgings, and almost crowding out the working artists. As a result, the character of the little fishing port was changed for ever.
It was two artists from Birmingham that first discovered Newlyn. Why Newlyn? The longing for clean air and light saw the flowering of painting “en plein air” movement in England. In the early 1880s, it was becoming fashionable to paint in this manner (but also daring and rebellious), where the object was to paint natural colours and tones directly from life, with the inherent problems of the changing light through the days and seasons, and with the practicalities of carrying easels, canvases and equipment to the chosen subject.
As Norman Garstin said, “your work could not be any good unless you caught a cold doing it”.

These are artists of the Newlyn School in order of their arrival there.

Walter Langley, 1852-1922


The artist in his studio

Son of a Birmingham tailor, he arrived in Newlyn in 1881 after training at South Kensington where he studied design. He recorded life in the fishing community, painting, unusually, mainly in watercolour.  He was politically left wing and was noted for his socialist/realist portrayals of working-class figures, mainly fishermen and their families.
In 1878 he was invited to hang a self-portrait in The Uffizi to hang alongside Raphael, Rubens and Rembrandt in their collection of great artists.


Walter Langley, Carrying the Catch


Walter Langley, The Fisherman, 1891


Walter Langley, The Greeting, 1904


Walter Langley, A Cornish Village Maiden, 1883


Walter Langley, Among the Missing, 1883


Walter Langley, Between the Tides, 1901


Walter Langley, Touch of a Vanished Hand, 1888


Walter Langley, Waiting for the Boats, 1885

Edwin Harris, 1855-1906


Stanhope Forbes, Portrait of Edwin Harris, 1890

Born in Ladywood, Birmingham. Studied at BSA where Walter Langley was also a student.  They were to remain lifelong friends. After BSA attended Veriat’s Academy, Antwerp.
Arrived in Newlyn 1883, staying for twelve years. He interpreted his surroundings with a lighter touch than his friend Langley.
After leaving Newlyn he set up his own studio in Birmingham where he concentrated mainly on portraiture.


Edwin Harris, Apple Blossom


Edwin Harris, Under the Cornish Cliffs


Edwin Harris, Fisherman


Edwin Harris, An Old Fisherman


Edwin Harris, The Lesson


Edwin Harris, Mother & Daughter Reading a Book


Edwin Harris, A Pinch of Snuff


Edwin Harris, Gathering Sticks

Ralph Todd, 1856-1932
Moved to Newlyn in 1883. As a painter, he struggled. Some charming works, but others downright poor.


Ralph Todd, Primrose Day

Leghe Suthers, 1855-1929
Very little recorded of his life. Clearly, he spent a considerable amount of time in Newlyn, bu the dates are unknown.


Leghe Suthers, Newlyn, from Audit Lane, c1886

Fred Hall, 1860-1948
Studied at Lincoln School of Art before Veriat’s Academy in Antwerp. Arrived in Newlyn about 1883 to 85, and stayed until 1898.


Fred Hall, A Newlyn Cottage, c1910

Stanhope Alexander Forbes, RA, 1857-1947
Son of an English railway manager. Studied at Lambeth School of Art and the RA Schools.
Arrived in Newlyn in 1884, and is sometimes known as “the father of the Newlyn School”.
In 1889, he married his second wife Elizabeth Armstrong, also an artist (see below)
Died in Newlyn and buried nearby in Sancreed churchyard.


Stanhope Forbes, Mousehole, near Newlyn, 1919

Frank Bramley, 1857-1915
Like Fred Hall, he studied at Lincoln School of Art and Antwerp. He arrived in Newlyn in 1884.
In contrast to most of the Newlyn colony, he painted many interiors.
He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy. He left Newlyn in 1895 and settled in Grasmere.


Frank Bramley, Eyes and no Eyes, or The Hopeless Dawn, 1887, Tate, London

Percy Robert Craft, 1856-1934
Arrived in Newlyn in 1885 and left in 1899.
Attended UCL and the Heatherley’s and the Slade.


Percy Craft, Tucking a School of Pilchards, 1897

Thomas Cooper Gotch, 1854-1931
The son of a shoemaker, he studied in London and Antwerp, and arrived in Newlyn in 1887. Painted naturalistic pastoral scenes before immersing himself in the Pre-Raphaelite school, and is best known for his work at that period.
Like Forbes, he was also buried in Sancreed churchyard.


Thomas Gotch, Portrait of Phyllis Gotch

Albert Chevallier Tayler, 1862-1925
Studied at Heatherley’s School of Art and the RA Schools.
He arrived in Newlyn in 1884 and stayed twelve years.


Albert Tayler, Feeding Time, 1888

Henry Edward Detmold, 1859-1921
Born into a merchant family of German origin. He came to Newlyn in 1885, after studying in Düsseldorf, Brussels, Munich and Paris? Specialised in Landscape and marine subjects.
He was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.


Henry Detmold, An Old Fisherman

Frank Wright Bourdillon, 1851-1929
Born in India. Studied at the Slade and later in Paris. He arrived in Newlyn in 1887, and after five years he returned to India as a Christian missionary.
He used the “square brush technique”, where the flat of the brush is used to lay down squarish strokes of colour directly on to the canvas, unblended, in the form of a jigsaw puzzle.


Frank Bourdillon, The Jubilee Hat, 1887

Elizabeth Forbes (née Armstrong), 1859-1912.
A Canadian, she married Stanhope Forbes (above) in 1889. Having studied at South Kensington, now the Royal College of Art, she became an artist of considerable merit.


Elizabeth Forbes, School’s Out, 1889

William Banks Fortescue, 1850-1924
Also from Birmingham. He studied in Paris and Venice. Not very prolific, but. exhibited surprisingly frequently.


William Fortescue, Old Newlyn Harbour

Norman Garstin, 1847-1926
Studied in Antwerp and Paris.
Contributed greatly to the “Newlyn experience”.


Norman Garstin, In a Cottage

MH, Meeting No27, 16 October, 2018

Laura Knight, The Circus

Laura received a letter from Major Evelyn Atherley, who had read of her studies of the circus in the papers. He asked her to paint a picture for her. His first request was for a portrait of the clown, Whimsical Walker, standing astride, with his dog, Blinkers standing in front of him. He then asked for another clown, Joe Craston, to be included, and then for something else, and the for something else. The requests multiplied, and Laura agreed to them all, and accepted the commission.

Harold thought she was mad.

This is the result.


Laura Knight, Charivari, also known as The Grand Parade, 1929, oil on canvas, 99 x 125, cm, Museum & Art Gallery, Newport, UK

She and the major became lifelong friends and he died shortly before the publication of her first autobiography.

The circus was a popular national entertainment in the 1920s, and Laura visited both Fossett’s Circus at the Islington Agricultural Hall and Bertram Mills’ Circus based at Olympia. Mills invigorated the British circus tradition by presenting a polished, glamorous show with international performers that attracted a celebrity audience, including Sir Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw. For Laura, the physically audacious performers in spectacular costumes were irresistible subjects.

When her painting Charivari, a depiction of multiple performers at Mills’ Circus, was exhibited at the Royal Academy it was criticised and lampooned in the press. Undeterred, Laura joined Mills and his company when they embarked on a national tour in partnership with Great Carmo’s circus. She shared temporary lodgings with the clowns and acrobats, drawing and painting the performers at work and rest over an intense four month period. The more reflective portraits made at this time show a deep understanding of the life and experiences of the travelling performer.
In “Oil Paint & Grease Paint”, she says “I was as much a part of the circus as anyone in the show, used to putting up with anything, living solely in its atmosphere.”


Laura Knight, Major Atherley, 1932, pastel & watercolour, 46 x 52 cm, Private Collection

She painted the major’s portrait. She invented the pictures behind him, so that he could have more for his money. Top right is the lion tamer Togare, preparing to wrestle with Paris, and on the left is Blinkers, the major’s dog.


Laura Knight, Circus Matinee, c1938, oil on canvas, 84 x 114 cm, Perth & Kinross Council, Perth, UK

A scene at Bertram Mills’ Circus. The clown is Joe Bert; he and his wife Ally were friends of Laura. The acrobat is Herbert Hanson. The horse in the centre is the Knapstroper horse Hassan, and on the right Sulliman.


Laura Knight, The Rosinbacks, oil on canvas, 78 x  64 cm, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

The Rosinback is distinguished by a broad back on to which resin is sprinkled, to give the performer a firm foothold.

Left, Laura Knight, Haifa and Hassan, 1930, oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection
and right, Laura Knight, Elsie on Hassan, 1929-30, oil on canvas, 69 x 76 cm, City Museum, Nottingham, UK

Laura painted Fred Carmo’s troupe of beautiful spotted acrobat’s horses several times at Bertram Mills’ Circus, on this occasion in 1930. The breed was called ‘Knapstroper’, peculiar to Eastern Germany and Russia.


Laura Knight, A Musical Clown, 1930, oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, UK

Left, Laura Knight, Three Clowns, c1930, oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm, City Museum, Leicester, UK, and right, a sketch of Joe Craston.

As we have already seen, Laura was fascinated by the ballet, and the excitement of the circus was another passion. She had a gift for entering the lives of the performers and was friends with many of them. Her introduction behind the scenes was via her friend, Alfred Munnings, who asked the circus owner, Bertram Mills, if she could paint and sketch, much as she had done in the ballet.
After the death of Whimsical Walker, of whom more below, Joe Craston became the principal clown in Bertram Mills Circus.


Laura Knight, Joe Craston & Buffer, scene from a circus , 1929, charcoal, pencil & watercolour, 36 x 26 cm, Private Collection

Buffer is the generic term for a clown’s dog. A performing dog is a Slanging buffer.
Joe is shown here in the guise of a Joey, the white faced sad clown, named in honour of the great Grimaldi, who died in 1837. He is known for the expansion of the rôle of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes.


Laura Knight, Whimsical Walker, coloured crayon and gouache over traces of pencil, 37 x 27 cm, Private Collection

Whimsical Walker from Charivari


The Whimsical Walker (1851-1934), who wore this costume in the 1920s, worked as a clown in both circus and pantomime. Born Thomas Walker, he first appeared in 1865 and subsequently worked in England and America. In 1886, he appeared by royal command before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. The donkey misbehaved and the Queen was not amused.
Walker’s act was popular with generations of children. In 1928 Dame Laura Knight recorded his appearance in her oil painting, The Whimsical Walker and His Buffer, which shows him in this costume with his circus dog or ‘buffer’. The artist and performer met and made friends in the 1920s when Walker was working at Olympia for Bertram Mills’ and Carmo’s circuses. Walker’s props were those of the traditional clown: a string of sausages, a goose, and a red-hot poker.


The Whimsical Walker’s costume, displayed in the London Museum

Laura cared for his widow, and took his costume and wig, which was hired from Clarkson’s and which she bought for 2/6d, to the London museum. Note the string of sausages, one of Whimsical Walker’s trademark acts.


Laura Knight, Goliath, c1930, crayon and pencil, 25 x 35 cm, Private Collection

This is the dwarf Goliath from Charivari. His best trick was to place his hat on the ground, bend over, put his head in the hat, and stand up again.
Boom! Boom!


Left,  Laura Knight, Two Clowns, c1929, watercolour & charcoal, 50 x 34 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, Clown’s Refreshment, c1929, watercolour & charcoal, 36 x 27 cm, Private Collection

As with the ballet, Laura was interested in what went on behind the scenes. The couple on the right are probably Joe Craston and his wife, with whom Laura established a close friendship.

Left, Laura Knight, Circus People, oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, The Finishing Horse, 1951, oil on canvas, 74 x 69 cm, Private Collection


Laura Knight, The Last Act, 1929, oil on canvas, 140 x 107 cm, Art Gallery & Museum, Dundee, UK

Put them all together again:
Togare, the lion tamer with Paris; the pig who spelled his name, “Happy”; Joe Craston on the left; and Major Atherley, with his dog and an unknown woman.

BT, Meeting No26, 20 October, 2018


A Taste of Rococo

Rococo was an exuberantly decorative 18th-century European style which was the final expression of the baroque movement. It pushed to the extreme the principles of illusion and theatricality, an effect achieved by dense ornament, asymmetry, fluid curves, and the use of white and pastel colours combined with gilding,
The Rococo style of architecture and decoration began in France in the first part of the 18th century in the reign of Louis XV as a reaction against the more formal and geometric Style Louis XIV.
The derivation of the word is a combination of “rocaille”, a style distinguished by the use of shells as in a grotto,  and “baroque”.
Rococo artists and architects used a more jocular, florid, and graceful approach to the Baroque, with playful and witty themes. The interior decoration of Rococo rooms was designed as a total work of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings.


Interior of the Salon de la Princesse, in the Hôtel de Soubise, Paris


Charles Cressent, Commode, 1730, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, UK


Jean-Honoré Fragonard, L’Escarpolette, c1767, oil on canvas, 81 × 64 cm, Wallace Collection, London, UK

This work by Fragonard is probably one of the first paintings that comes to mind when thinking about the rococo period.


Antoine Watteau, L’Embarquement pour Cythère, c1719, oil on canvas, 120 x 190 cm, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany

This style of “frivolous” painting soon became the target of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who demanded a more serious art which would show the nobility of man.


Gustaf Lundberg, Portrait of François Boucher, 1741, pastel on blue paper, 65 x 50, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

François Boucher, 1703-1770, is known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories, and pastoral scenes. He was perhaps the most celebrated painter and decorative artist of the 18th century. He also painted several portraits of his patroness, Madame de Pompadour.
The Goncourt brothers wrote: “Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it.”
One of Boucher’s most quoted remarks is that nature is “trop verte et mal éclairée”


François Boucher, Portrait de la Marquise de Pompadour, 1756, oil on canvas, 201 x 157 cm, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, 1721-1764, commonly known as Madame de Pompadour, was a member of the French court and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751, and remained influential as court favourite until her death. She took charge of the king’s schedule and was a valued aide and advisor, despite her frail health and many political enemies. She secured titles of nobility for herself and her relatives, and built a network of clients and supporters.
She was a major patroness of architecture and decorative arts, especially porcelain.
Louis XV remained devoted to Pompadour until her death from tuberculosis. Louis nursed her through her illness. Even her enemies admired her courage during the final painful weeks. Voltaire wrote: “I am very sad at the death of Madame de Pompadour. I was indebted to her and I mourn her out of gratitude. It seems absurd that while an ancient pen-pusher, hardly able to walk, should still be alive, a beautiful woman, in the midst of a splendid career, should die at the age of forty-two.”

The following five paintings are typical of the work of Boucher, and are chosen because each contains a similar image


François Boucher, Les Caresses dangereuses, 1730-32, oil on canvas, 80 x 65 cm, Private Collection



François Boucher, A Young Woman taking a Foot Bath, 1766, oil on canvas, 53 x 42 cm, Private Collection


François Boucher, La Modiste, 1746, oil on canvas, Wallace Collection, London, UK


François Boucher, La Toilette, 1742, oil on canvas, 53 x 67 cm, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain


François Boucher, La Belle villageoise, 1732, oil on canvas, 41 x 31 cm, Private Collection

And the link…


As shown above, Mme de Pompadour was the principal mistress of Louis XV. She became the confidante and advisor tot he king, and was a great influence upon him.
Louis had many petites maîtresses, among whom was Louis O’Murphy.

Left, François Boucher, Girl Resting, 1751, oil on canvas, 60 x 74 cm, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany
and right, François Boucher, Louise O’Murphy c. 1752, oil on canvas, 59 x 73 cm, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

Louise O’Murphy, at fifteen years old, a petite maîtresse of Louis XV, unlike Mme de Pompadour, who was maîtresse en titre. Marie-Louise’s parents are known to have had a  criminal record: Daniel Morfi was involved in a case of espionage and blackmail, while Marguerite Iquy was accused of prostitution and theft.
The circumstances of the presentation of Louise to Louis XV are unknown, but it is thought that the inner circle of Mme de Pompadour herself was responsable for the acquisition of the petites maîtresses. Her brother, the Marquis de Marigny had been shown the 1751 portrait, who in turn presented it to the king.

Louis took her as one of his mistresses. She soon became one of his favourites, and had a daughter, Agathe. After only two years at court, a marriage was arranged for her and she was sent away. After the death of her first husband, she married twice more.


François Boucher, L’Odalisque brune, c1754, oil on cavas, 54 x 65 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The date of the painting is disputed, and it is not certain whether it was painted before or after the portraits of Louise. The model was probably the artist’s wife, Marie-Jeanne (Buzeau).

Autres temps, autre moeurs…

A pillar of rectitude, Berthe Morisot, and a farmer’s daughter aged sixteen

Left, Berthe Morisot, Baigneuse, 1891, oil on canvas, Private Collection
and right, Berthe Morisot, Nue allongée, bergère, 1891, oil on canvas. 58 x 86 cm, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain

BT, Meeting No25, 18 September, 2018


Marc Chagall, 1887-1985

Marc Chagall was born into poverty in 1887 near Vitebsk in modern Belarus. His father was a counterman clerk in a herring warehouse and his mother managed a small grocery shop. Marc cherished his parents, both during their lifetimes and after their death.When he first went to school, he was amazed that pens and ink had other uses than writing, and he soon became adept at drawing.


Marc Chagall, Apothecary in Vitebsk, 1908

An early modernist, he was associated with many artistic styles and created works in many forms, including painting, book illustration, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics and fine art prints.

From 1907 to 1910 he studied at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts in Saint Petersburg, before moving to Paris

Marc Chagall, as a young man, and Bella, his first wife.

Influenced also by fauvism, his debt to the Orphism, a term coined by Apollinaire, of Robert Delaunay is clear in the semi-transparent overlapping panes of vivid colour in the sky above the city in Paris Through the Window


Marc Chagall, Paris through the Window, 1913, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA


Marc Chagall, Rain, 1911


Marc Chagall, Le Marchand des Bestiaux, 1912, Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland

He visited Russia in 1914 and was prevented by the outbreak of war from returning to Paris


Marc Chagall, The Birthday, 1915

He settled in his home town of Vitebsk where he was appointed Commissar for Art in 1918; he established the Vitebsk School of Popular Art from which he resigned in 1920

He moved to Moscow and executed his first designs for the State Jewish Theatre, a Yiddish company established in 1919 and shut down by the Soviet authorities in in 1948.

Marc Chagall, Wall Paintings for the State Jewish Theatre, c1921
Left to right: Dance, Literature, Drama.

He returned, after a short stay in Berlin, to Paris in 1923 where the following year he had his first retrospective.

During the 1930s he travelled to Palestine, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy.


Marc Chagall, The Vision, c1937, Tate Gallery, London


Marc Chagall, Autumn in the Village, c1940

During WW2 he fled to the USA where he has a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 1946


Photo portrait of Chagall in 1941, by Carl Van Vechten


Marc Chagall, The Crucified  1944, pencil, gouache & watercolour on paper, Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel


Marc Chagall, Le Coq en amour, 1947, oil on canvas

In 1951 he visited Israel where he executed his first sculptures in ceramics and glass.


Marc Chagall, Lovers with Bouquet, 1951-2

Marc Chagall, Sposi Angora, and Fidanzatini, 1954

In the 60s he travelled widely, often in association with the large commissions which he was receiving;

Among these were windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah University Medical Centre in Jerusalem which were installed in 1962, a major breakthrough for him.

A ceiling for the Opéra in Paris,


and the Peace Window at the UN building in New York. With detail

Throughout this time he continued to paint.

There followed windows at Tudeley in Kent


and at Chichester Cathedral where he used red instead of his usual blue,


to match the colour of the tapestry by Ursula Benker Schirmer displayed nearby


Untitled glass sculpture, c1956-53



Reims Cathedral  (completed  1974, with six others


St. Stephen’s Church, Mainz
Installed in 1985

The window in Mainz cathedral, which viewed as a sign of good will between the Jewish and Christian faiths. This was his last major commission and probably his last major work.


He died in the same year, aged 98, and is buried with his second wife Vava Brodsky, in Saint Paul de Vence

MH, Meeting No25, 18 September 2018

Laura Knight, “Darkies in Baltimore”

The title is that of a chapter heading in her autobiography, “Oil Paint & Grease Paint”, published in 1936.

In 1923 the Knights holidayed in the Tyrol. Laura destroyed all of her work from the holiday, as she she was not satisfied with it.

In Florence, on the way back to England, they met the eminent American cardiologist Le Roy Crummer and his wife and struck up a friendship with them.


Laura Knight, Portrait of Le Roy Crummer, 1925, charcoal,, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Le Roy Crummer, 1872 – 1934.
During World War 1, he was a captain in the Medical Corps stationed at Camp Greenleaf, Georgia, where he taught cardiology to medical officers. In 1919, he was named Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska, a position that he held until 1925. As his health began to deteriorate from heart disease, he moved to Los Angeles, where he led the quiet life of a scholar and collector of rare books illustrating the early history of medicine. In the decade between 1920 and 1930, he and his wife Myrtle assiduously travelled to Europe in search of books and manuscripts.
It was on one of these trips that he met the Knights.

On his return to America, Crummer talked to colleagues about Harold’s work. As a result, Harold was invited to the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to paint a series of portraits of the doctors in the hospital.
Off he went. Harold and Laura often parted for periods to paint in their own way.
Later, we shall see that Laura did the same when she followed the circus.

Three portraits painted by Harold during his stay in Baltimore:


Harold Knight, John Miller Turpin Finney, 1926, oil on canvas, 36 x 29 cm, John Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA

John Finney, 1863-1942, was a surgeon at John Hopkins. During World War I, he was sent to France as the commander of Base Hospital 18, the Johns Hopkins Hospital unit. Shortly after arriving, he was named the chief surgical consultant to the American Expeditionary Force. After his tour in France, Finney was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from the United States, the Commandeur de l’ Ordre de la Couronne from Belgium, and the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur from France.


Harold Knight, Elsie Mildred Lawler, 1927, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm, John Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA

Born in Whitby, Ontario, she attended the University of Toronto, before entering The Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing in 1896. In 1910, she became superintendent of nurses and of the school of nursing at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a position she held for more than thirty years. Her tenure at Johns Hopkins was characterised by steady advances in the standards of nursing education. She adapted the nursing curriculum to accommodate the hospital’s expansion, which more than tripled in size, adding new clinics and institutes for specialised branches of medicine.


Harold Knight, William Stevenson Baer, 1927, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, John Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA

William Baer, 1872-1931, was the founding director of orthopaedics at Johns Hopkins.
During World War I, Baer first served with the Johns Hopkins Base Hospital 18 and later as the orthopaedic consultant to General Pershing. While treating injured soldiers in France, Baer noted that wounds infested by maggots on the battlefield healed most rapidly. Recognising the importance of maggots in the debridement of wounds, he became a longtime proponent of their use in his surgical practice.
Baer had two passions: children and animals. He would keep wealthy patients waiting in his private consulting rooms, while he went out to tend to an injured dog.

Harold became more and more in demand, and one commission led to another. He was able to ask Laura to join him, and Baltimore they were the guests of Baer and his wife. He made an enormous impression on Laura, who admired him greatly.

Harold’s commissions took up a good deal of his time, and so, through Baer, Laura gained access to the segregated children’s and maternity wards at the hospital. She preferred sleeping babies, because they didn’t move!


Laura Knight, The Darky Baby, c1927

Laura Knight, Juanita, 1927

At first, the women in the maternity wards were suspicious of Laura, thinking that she wanted to caricaturize them, but were won over by her friendliness. She loved children.

Left, Laura Knight, Portrait of a Young Woman, c1927, and right, Laura Knight, Chloë, c1927


Laura Knight, The Piccaninny, 1927

In the hospital, Laura met Pearl Johnson, a nurse: they became friends. Pearl and her sister Ireen took Laura to concerts and lectures to observe what was an early phase of the Civil Rights movement.

Laura was surprised that she could not go out and discover a thriving African culture in the streets and the markets, not understanding that the people were several generations away from their roots. Pearl brought her models to pose for her.


Laura Knight, Madonna of the Cotton Fields or Mighty Like a Rose, c1927

A collection of paintings by other artists:


Annibale Carracci, attrib, Portrait of an African Slave Woman, ca. 1580s, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD


Augustus John, A West Indian Girl, c1940, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK


Paolo Veronese, School of, Portrait of a Moorish Woman, c1550s, oil on canvas on panel 38 x 25 cm


Rembrandt van Rejn, Two Young Africans


Abraham Janssens, Attrib; The Sibyl Agrippina, c1600, oil on canvas, 80 x 107 cm, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany


Jean-Etienne Liotard, Portrait d’une jeune femme, late 19th Cent, pastel, 41 x 32 cm, Art Museum, St Louis, MO, USA

And finally:


Emma Soyer, Two Negro Children with a Book, 1831, Private Collection

The portrait was featured in the BBC TV programme “Fake of Fortune?”, on 2 September, 2018.

BT, Meeting No25, 18 September, 2018


Life is so unfair!

This short talk started as a joke. I found the image of the Venus de Milo and thought that it wasn’t fair that she had no arms, and then found Lakshmi, who has four!


Alexandros of Antioch?, Venus de Milo, 130-100 BC, marble, 203 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The Venus de Milo is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Initially it was attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles, but is now thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch. Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, the statue is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm high. Part of an arm and the original plinth were lost following its discovery. The statue is named after the Greek island of Milos, where it was discovered.
The consensus is that the statue was found in two large pieces (the upper torso and the lower draped legs) along with several herms (pillars topped with heads), fragments of the upper left arm and left hand holding an apple, and an inscribed plinth.
In 1871, during the Paris Commune uprising, many public buildings were burned; the statue was secreted out of the Louvre Museum in an oak crate and hidden in the basement of Prefecture of Police. Though the Prefecture was burned, the statue survived undamaged.
In the autumn of 1939, the Venus was again packed for removal from the Louvre in anticipation of the outbreak of war. Scenery trucks from the Comédie-Française transported the Louvre’s masterpieces to safer locations in the countryside. During the war, the statue was sheltered safely in the Château de Valençay, along with the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Michelangelo’s Slaves.
The great fame of the Venus de Milo during the nineteenth century was not simply the result of its admitted beauty; it also owed much to a major propaganda effort by the French authorities. In 1815, France had returned the Medici Venus, see below, to the Italians after it had been looted by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest classical sculptures in existence, caused the French to promote the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they recently had lost. The statue was praised dutifully by many artists and critics as the epitome of graceful female beauty. However, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was among its detractors, labelling it “un grand gendarme”.


Ravi Varma, Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. She is the wife of Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism Tradition. Lakshmi is also an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. Lakshmi has also been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, and was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism.
In Hindu religion, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort. When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort.
The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings.
Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, golden coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness.
She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds a lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha.



Raja Ravi Varma, 1848-1906, was a celebrated Malayali Indian painter and artist. He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art for a number of aesthetic and broader social reasons. Firstly, his works are held to be among the best examples of the fusion of European techniques with a purely Indian sensibility. While continuing the tradition and aesthetics of Indian art, his paintings employed the latest European academic art techniques of the day. Secondly, he was notable for making affordable lithographs of his paintings available to the public, which greatly enhanced his reach and influence as a painter and public figure. Indeed, his lithographs increased the involvement of common people with fine arts and defined artistic tastes among common people for several decades. In particular, his depictions of Hindu deities and episodes from the epics and Puranas have received profound acceptance from the public and are found, often as objects of worship, across the length and breadth of India.

A selection of his work:

A Lady giving alms at the Temple; The Coquette; Mahatma Gandhi, who must have in his thirties at the time of the painting; A Girl after her Bath; A Galaxy of Musicians; Self Portrait; and, Sorrow.

Myths worldwide tend to have common elements: Botticelli’s Venus stands on a shell, while Lakshmi has chosen a lotus blossom:

In passing, the Venus de’ Medici:


Venus de’ Medici, c100 BC, 153cm, Gallerie degli Uffizzi, Florence, Italy

The Venus de’ Medici is a Hellenistic marble sculpture depicting the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. It is a 1st-century BCE marble copy, perhaps made in Athens, of a bronze original Greek sculpture.
The goddess is depicted in a fugitive, momentary pose, as if surprised in the act of emerging from the sea, to which the dolphin at her feet alludes.
The restoration of the arms was made by Ercole Ferrata, who gave them long tapering Mannerist fingers that did not begin to be recognised as out of keeping with the sculpture until the 19th century.
The origin of the Venus is undocumented. It was published in the collection at the Villa Medici, Rome, in 1638, although it was already known by 1559.
Lord Byron devoted five stanzas of “Childe Harold” to describing it.
It was one of the works of art shipped to Palermo in 1800 to escape the French, without success. It was shipped to Paris in 1803, but after Napoleon’s fall it arrived back in Florence on 27 December 1815.

Back to what started it all:


BT, Meeting No24, 4 September, 2018


Munnings, Horseless… or nearly

The talk at the last meeting, on Laura Knight in Lamorna, introduced Alfred Munnings as a selfish, flamboyant incomer to the Group. His disastrous marriage to Florence Carter-Wood and her subsequent suicide did not help to enhance his reputation. Also touched upon in the talk was the possible relationship between Florence and Gilbert Evans, who left the group to join the army.


Laura Knight, Sketch of Gilbert Evans

At Lamorna, Alfred displayed his love of horses, riding with the hunt whenever possible, and painting them all his life.

But he was more than this. The son of a Suffolk shepherd, he was an admirer of Constable. From humble beginnings he rose to be President of the Royal Academy and received a knighthood. He married twice, once to Florence Carter-Wood, and secondly in 1920, to Violet McBride, also a horse lover, with whom he lived for the rest of his life.


G W Lambert, Alfred Munnings

This talk presents, for the most part, his work which did not include horses


Alfred Munnings, Pike Fishing in January, 1898, oil on canvas, 31 x 38 cm, Private Collection


Alfred Munnings, The White Canoe, 1898, oil on canvas, 43 x 91 cm, Private Collection


Alfred Munnings, Study for ‘The Haunted House’, oil on board, 36 x 45 cm, The Munnings Art Museum, Colchester, UK


Alfred Munnings, Idle Moments or The Boathouse, 1906, oil on canvas, 51 x 61 cm, Private Collection


Alfred Munnings, Lamorna Cove, Cornwall, 1912-13, oil on canvas, 52 x 62 cm, Private Collection


Alfred Munnings, Lamorna Cove, Cornwall, date?, oil on canvas, The Munnings Art Museum, Colchester, UK


Alfred Munnings, Hop-Picking, 92 x 102 cm, oil on canvas, Art Museum, Sheffield, UK


Alfred Munnings, The Arbour, 1908, oil on canvas, 66 x 54 cm


Alfred Munnings, Violet, my wife, in the garden


Alfred Munnings, My Horse Is My Friend: The Artist’s Wife and Isaac, 1922, oil on canvas, Castle House Museum, Dedham, Essex, UK


Alfred Munnings, September Afternoon, 1939, oil on canvas, 64 x 76 cm, The Munnings Art Museum, Colchester, UK


Alfred Munnings, After the Party, 1897, oil on canvas, 76 x 56 cm, The Munnings Art Museum Colchester, UK


Alfred Munnings, Tagg’s Island, 1920, oil on canvas, 89 x 127 cm, The Munnings Art Museum, Colchester, UK


Alfred Munnings, Charge of Flowerdew’s Squadron, 1918, oil on canvas, 51 x 61 cm, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Canada

Nearly three-quarters of the Canadian cavalry involved in this attack against German machine-gun positions at Moreuil Wood on 30 March 1918 were killed or wounded. This included Lieutenant G.M. Flowerdew, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading the charge. Unable to break the trench deadlock and of little use at the front, cavalry remained behind the lines for much of the war. During the German offensives of March and April 1918, however, the cavalry played an essential role in the open warfare that temporarily confronted the retreating British forces.

EH, Meeting No24, 4 September, 2018

A couple of comments


Laura Knight, Hop Pickers, Malvern, oil on canvas

Laura also painted hop pickers. The painting depicts gypsies, of whom she painted many examples


Ernest Meissonnier, Friedland, 1807, c 1861-75, oil on canvas, 136 x 243 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

See the painting of Flowerdew’s charge, above


Laura Knight, The Ballet

The Ballets Russes, under the direction of Diaghilev, first performed in London in 1911, and Valentine Gross-Hugo painted several scenes from their productions.

These two appeared in the earlier talk on the exhibition “Belles de Jour“:

Left: Valentine Gross-Hugo, Karsavina dans le “Spectre de la rose », 1912, wax on wood, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes
and right:
Valentine Gross-Hugo, Karsavina et Nijinsky dans le “Spectre de la rose”, 1912, wax on wood, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

The paintings are in wax on wood, a supple technique, enabling the artist to represent the gentle, light movements of the dancers.

At a later date, Laura also painted Karsavina:


Laura Knight, Karsavina in ”The Firebird”, date?, oil on canvas, Private Collection

When they returned to London from Cornwall after the war, Harold and Laura became passionately fond of the ballet and went to performances almost every night.

When the Ballets Russes performed in London, it was often in set pieces at a variety theatre such as the Colisseum, alongside such acts as the male impersonator, Vesta Tilley or the comedian, Harry Tate.

Initially, Laura had to sketch from the stalls.


Laura Knight Carnival, 1916, oil on canvas, 76 x 102 cm, Private Collection

This was painted during an earlier visit to London.
Laura destroyed most of her early ballet paintings, and this is a rare example.
Centre stage are Tchernicheva & Idjikawski, while Enrico Cecchetti, the great dancer and dancing teacher of the era is probably at the left. By the time the Knights met him he was getting old, having been born in 1850, and appeared largely in mime parts. He and is wife became friends of the Knights, and visited them often in Soho, where Giuseppina cooked for them.

The painting was earlier shown in the earlier talk on Laura Knight in Newlyn.


Laura Knight, Carnival, 1920, oil on canvas, 102 x 132 cm, City Galleries, Manchester, UK

The breakthrough in Laura’s paintings of the ballet came when her frame maker, Mr Steer, who seemed to know everybody, obtained permission from Diaghilev himself for her to paint and sketch back stage.

This shows the Ballet Russes before the rise of the curtain for a performance of Carnival at Drury Lane in 1920, showing from left to right Diaghilev in top hat; Massine, red coat; Karsavina tying her shoe; Idzikowski, as Harlequin; Sokolova, pointing foot, as Papillon; Woizikowski, in striped tights as Floreston; Cecchetti, in buff coat and green gloves as Pantaloon; Tchernicheva, in blue skirt, as Chiarina

There was a suggestion at the time that the work was similar to Manet’ painting, Le Ballet espagnol of 1862, in which he depicted the Spanish company who were dancing at that time at the Hippodrome in Paris. Among them are Lola de Valence, seated, and, standing, the famous dancer Mariano Camprubi.


Edouard Manet, Le Ballet espagnol, 1862, oil on canvas, 61 x 91 cm, Philips Collection, Washington, DC, USA


Laura Knight, Behind the scenes in the coulisses, 1920, oil on canvas, 64 x 56 cm, Art Gallery, Falmouth, UK

Laura lent the dresser her ubiquitous red jacket, to add a touch of colour to the painting

Shown at the earlier talk on Falmouth Art Gallery


Laura Knight, Portrait of the Ballerina, Lydia Lopokova, date?, oil on canvas, Private Collection

Lydia Lopokova was the first individual dancer to sit for Laura. Althogh very formal in the beginning, she warmed to Laura’s personality, and became friendly. She confided that, although a principal dancer, she was too small and the wrong shape for the principal rôles. She married the economist Maynard Keynes instead. He was homosexual and a member of the Bloomsbury Group, but in spite of all that, the marriage was a happy one. Keynes’ lover Duncan Grant was best man at the wedding.

Harold also painted her.


Harold Knight, Lydia Lopokova, date?, oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm, Private Collection

Left:  Laura Knight, Dressing Room No3, 1924, 64 x 76 cm, Atkinson Art Museum, Stockport, UK
and right: Laura Knight, Ballerinas at the Makeup Table, 1957, oil on canvas, 91 x 61 cm, Private collection

The two works were painted more than thirty years apart, showing Laura’ enduring passion for the stage.

One day Laura more or less accidentally found her way into the dressing rooms and became fascinated. After a while Lopokova was put out and sent a message reminding her that she should be painting on stage.


Laura Knight, The Ballet Girl and the Dressmaker, 1930, oil on canvas, 96 x 122 cm, Private Collection

The model was a dancer named Barbara Bonnar; ‘…a vital and sparkling young creature, [who] was rehearsing for a show at the time and many of the sittings had to take place in the early morning before she went to the theatre.’ A detailed figure drawing for the painting is in the collection of Nottingham City Art Gallery. The artist’s own dressmaker, Miss Fergusson, posed for the woman making the alterations to the dress; ‘her hands and type were perfect.’ The picture was originally intended to hang in the office of the new headquarters of the H Earl Hoover business in Chicago but Hoover was so delighted with it that he decided to hang it in pride of place in his home.


Laura Knight, Ballet, 1936, oil on canvas, 65 x 76 cm, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

Inevitably, she was from time to time compared to Degas


Edgar Degas, Danseuses, 1884, pastel on paper, 75 x 73 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Laura worked in other media for her ballet work. These two aquatints show the development of an idea:

Left: Laura Knight, The Three Graces, 1926, aquatint
and right: Laura Knight, Three Graces of the Ballet, 1927, aquatint

Two more dressing room scenes, painted at different periods. In spite of her passion for the genre, she did not just depict the ballet, and her output was immense and varied

Left: Laura Knight, The Ballet Shoe, oil on canvas, 1932, 43 x 38 cm, Museums and Art Galleries, Brighton and Hove, UK
and right: Laura Knight, A Dressing Room at Drury Lane, 1952, oil on canvas

Although this talk has been about the ballet, Laura painted scenes of many different theatrical production, both on stage and off.

Just one example of her work:


Laura Knight, The Theatre Wardrobe, date?, oil on canvas, 97 x 66 cm, Private Collection

BT, Meeting No24, 4 September, 2018

Figure Drawings

A discussion on figure drawing beginning with Leonard’s Vitruvian man, showing the proportions of the human body


Leonardo da Vinci, L’Uomo Vitruviano, c1490, pen and ink with wash over metal point on paper, 35 × 26 cm, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

and one of his studies of a hand


Leonardo da Vinci, Study of a Hand

Seven examples of the depiction of the human figure

The work of Egon Schiele may serve as a basis for the representation of the use of the figure in art. His style is only one of countless others


Egon Schiele, Girl with Black Hair, 1911, watercolour & graphite pencil on paper, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, USA


Egon Schiele, Girl with Black Hair, 1911, watercolour & graphite pencil on paper, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, USA


Egon Schiele, Crouching Nude


Egon Schiele, Standing Male Nude with Red Loincloth, 1914, Albertina, Vienna


Egon Schiele, Girl in a Yellow Jacket

A cave painting, to show that mankind has always needed to draw


Big Horn Rhino cave painting, c30,000 BC, Chauvet, Ardèche, France

and a drawing, indicating simplicity and flowing movement


Pablo Picasso, Drawing of a head

MC, Meeting No23, 21 August 2018

Laura Knight, WW1 1914-18


Laura Knight, Spring, 1916-1920, oil on canvas, 182 x 153, Tate Gallery, London, UK

Laura needed to paint a picture which symbolised hope at a time when there seemed little prospect of better times: hence the rainbow. She reworked it over several years.

The models are Charles Naper, and his wife Ella, whom we last saw without her clothes.


Laura Knight, Self Portrait with Model, 1913, oil on canvas, 152 x 128 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

As far as I know, there are no paintings of Charles without his clothes, but he also painted his wife, as well as specialising in Cornish Landscapes


Charles Naper, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, pencil


Photograph of Charles Naper, Laura Knight, Cecily & Alfred Sidgwick, and Harold Knight in August 1914

The photograph was taken at the time of the outbreak of the war. Laura rarely looks at the camera. I have the feeling that it was not intentional, but that she always seemed to find something else to do at the time.

The detail from Spring shows a single magpie. Laura’s friend Gertrude Harvey was Cornish, and superstitious. She tried to get Laura to paint out the unlucky magpie, without success.

Gertrude Harvey was the wife of Harold Harvey, who painted the portrait of Dorothea Sharp, the subject of an earlier presentation


Harold Harvey, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp

He also painted his superstitious wife, who evidently had no objection to a single parrot.


Harold Harvey, Gertrude Harvey with a Parrot in the Artist’s House, oil on canvas, 46 x 48 cm, Private Collection

During the war Harold Knight’s principles led him to be a conscientious objector, which earned him the rebuke of many of his colleagues and former friends, and put a strain on his physical and mental health, as he was required to work as a farm labourer. He was 40 at the outbreak of war. He produced a number of sensitive scenes of women in interiors during this period, in part because artists were forbidden to produce views of the Cornish coastline for security reasons during the First World War, but perhaps also to reduce the stress of his life at the time.

Left, Harold Knight, Knitting, 1915, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm, Private Collection, and right, Harold Knight, The Green Book, c.1915, oil on canvas, 51 x 46 cm, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK

Laura, on the other hand, was as busy and adventurous as ever


Laura Knight, At the Edge of the Cliff, 1916, oil on canvas, 58 x 71 cm, Private Collection

She cared little for the restrictions, and continued to paint coastal scenes. Eventually she had to stop, and afterwards always painted from a high viewpoint and with no horizon, so that she could not be accused of being a spy.
The model is Marjorie Taylor, the sixteen year old daughter of a local coal merchant.

In November 1916, the wealthy Canadian newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook founded the Canadian War Memorials Fund. The Fund hired more than 116 artists in Canada and Great Britain to paint over 900 scenes of Canada at war. Some artists were sent to the front lines in France and Belgium to sketch Canadians in battle. Back in their studios in London, England, they completed larger paintings in oils. Other artists painted scenes of the home front in Canada

Future members of Canada’s celebrated Group of Seven also found new inspiration as war artists, painting the landscape of the western front. After the war, they depicted Canadian wilderness scenes in which damage caused by forest fires and the harsh climate was a prominent feature. The image of the destroyed, but still upright, tree appears in many of their compositions.

Here is one example:


Frederick Varley, German Prisoners, c1918, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowa, Canada

Anna Airy, 1882-1964, was one of the first women officially commissioned as a war artist and was recognised as one of the leading women artists of her generation.


Anna Airy, Cookhouse, Witley Camp, 1918, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowa, Canada

Laura also received a commission to paint at Witley Camp, near Aldershot. Her brief, strange though it may seem, was to paint Canadian soldiers bathing in the river. She couldn’t find any, but met Joe Shears, the Imperial Forces bantam weight champion. He was kind, cheerful and popular with everyone. She decided to paint a picture of a boxing match instead.


Laura Knight, Boxing Match, 1916, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowan Canada

The painting is more than three metres wide, and features Joe on the left in his black shorts and red sash.

These two sketches were probably drawn at Witley


…as were these black and which illustrations, taken from her first autobiography, “Oil Paint & Grease Paint”, published in 1936.

Laura was a woman, commissioned to paint a subject unfamiliar to her. Some years earlier, George Bellows, one of the Ash Can School of artists in New York, had painted a more brutal depiction of a boxing match…


George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909, oil on canvas, 92 x 123 cm, Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, USA

Two boxers fighting in the private athletic club situated across from his studio. Bellows used quick strokes to create a blurred image, simulating the two fighters in motion. He also chose a low point of view to put the viewer among the crowd watching the fight. Participants in the boxing ring were usually members of the club, but occasionally outsiders would fight with temporary memberships. These fighters were known as “stags”.

BT, Meeting No 23, 21 August 2018

Pissarro or not Pissarro?


Last time we saw this unidentified work by Dorothea Sharp, and later agreed that it could have been painted during her early training in France.

There was a comment… “it could be Pissarro!”, followed by another… “nothing like Pissarro!”

Here are four paintings by Camille Pissarro:


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, 1872, oil on canvas, 60 x 74 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, 1870, oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, USA


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, effet de neige, 1869, oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD, USA


Camille Pissarro, Entrée du village de Voisins, 1870, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Put them all together… ???

BT, Meeting No23, 21 August, 2018

Dorothea Sharp, ROI, RBA


A photograph of Dorothea Sharp, taken in about 1940.

Dorothea Sharp was born in Dartford, UK, in 1874 to middle class parents, and died in London in 1955 at the age of 81.

She showed no particular aptitude for art as a young girl, but at the age of twenty one she enrolled at Richmond Art School, having inherited £100 from an uncle. From there she moved to the Regent Street Polytechnic where her work was admired by George Clausen and David Murray, both of whom were visiting critics of the Polytechnic Sketch Club.

David Murray was the son of a boot maker and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. George Clausen was the son of a decorative painter of Danish descent, who studied at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Dorthea went on to Paris, where she encountered the work of the impressionists, and partlcularly that of Claude Monet. This had a great influence on her, and resulted in her highly impressionist style and spontaneity which she adopted for the rest of her life.

She exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1901 to 1948.

In the the 1920s and 1930s she travelled in Europe and to St ives, Cornwall, where she met fellow artist Marcella Smith, who became a lifelong friend.

Left Roger Fry, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp, and right Harold Harvey, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp

Four flower paintings

Roses, with detail

The following work was presented as by Dorothea Sharp, but unidentified



MH, Meeting No22, 7 August 2018



Two things you didn’t know about Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Macintosh, 1868-1928

An architect, designer, painter, and graphic artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868. He was one of the leading lights of the late 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement, and served an apprenticeship to the architect John Hutchinson in Glasgow while also enrolled in evening courses in drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art. From 1899 until 1913, he worked in the architectural practice of Honeyman & Keppie. In 1894 Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, whom he later married, founded the “Glasgow Four” with Margaret’s sister Frances, and Herbert MacNair, a group that was later dubbed the “Spook School”.

In 1896 the Glasgow Four showed their crafts objects and furniture at the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society in London. Mackintosh built several public buildings and private houses in Glasgow and environs. In 1897 he began to work on the new building for the Glasgow School of Art (finished in 1909). Some of his projects were conceived and realised as total works of art, with the architect equally concerned with designing the entire interior, including textiles and furnishings.

In 1900 Mackintosh and his group were invited to show their work at the VIIIth exhibition of the Viennese Secession. His designs exerted a profound influence on German and Austrian exponents of Jugendstil.

He was awarded a special prize at the 1901 competition “Haus eines Kunstfreundes” (“House for an Art Lover”) mounted by Alexander Koch. In 1902 Mackintosh was commissioned by Fritz Wärndorfer, who became the paramount backer of the Wiener Werkstätte the following year, to design a music room. In 1914 Mackintosh went to London to design textiles for Foxton’s and Sefton’s.

Mackintosh’s later works are, unlike his earlier designs, which were organic in conception, distinguished by a stringently geometric style, which often unites the opposites light and dark, black and white, masculine and feminine, modern and traditional. In 1923 Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret moved to Port Vendres in Brittany, where he devoted himself to painting in watercolour.


Charles Rennie Macintosh, House for an Art Lover

The House for an Art Lover is a building constructed between 1989 and 1996 and based on a 1901 design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with his wife, Margaret MacDonald. The building is situated in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. The idea to actually construct the house from the Mackintoshs’ designs came from Graham Roxburgh, a civil engineer in Glasgow who had done refurbishment work on the Mackintosh interiors in Craigie Hall. The house is a venue for art exhibitions and other events, as well as being itself a visitor attraction.

Macintosh is less well known for his exquisite flower paintings and his landscapes, painted in the south of France.

Flower paintings


Grey Iris


Winter Rose




Butterfly Flower


White Tulips


Yellow Tulips




Wild Pansies




Pink Tobacco plant, textile design





Slate Roofs, Fetges




La Lagonne


The Fort


Héré de Mallet

EH, Meeting No22, 7 August 2018

Laura Knight, Newlyn

As we saw last time, in spite of the poverty, deprivation, terrible living conditions and the experience of pain and grief which so distressed Harold, Laura acknowledged that their life in Staithes was the time when she discovered herself as an artist

Remember that this all happened at the end of the Belle Epoque in society and the arts. Staithes was a long way from all this. They were now married and settled in their life together.

When they arrived in Newlyn in 1907, there was already an established colony of artists working there, among whom were Stanhope Forbes, Frank Bramley and Henry Scott Tuke. They were made welcome by Forbes, the acknowledged leader of the group.


Stanhope Forbes, A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach, 1885, oil on canvas, City Museum & Art Gallery, Plymouth, UK

Writing to his mother in 1894, the painter Stanhope Forbes described Newlyn as ‘a sort of English Concarneau, and is the haunt of many artists’. Aware of the work of Bastien-Lepage and keen to explore plein air painting and rustic naturalism, Forbes had travelled to Brittany in 1891–2 in the company of his friend Henry La Tangue. They visited the artists’ colonies of Quimperlé and Concarneau where Jules Bastien-Lepage had settled in 1883. On his return to Britain, Forbes made his way to Newlyn and found there another colony dedicated to plein air realism. He decided to stay.


Frank Bramley, A Hopeless Dawn, 1888, oil on canvas, 123 168 cm, Tate Gallery, London, UK

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy,  with the following quotation from Ruskin:
‘Human effort and sorrow going on perpetually from age to age; waves rolling for ever and winds moaning, and faithful hearts wasting and sickening for ever, and brave lives dashed away about the rattling beach like weeds for ever; and still, at the helm of every lonely boat, through starless night and hopeless dawn, His hand, who spreads the fisher’s net over the dust of the Sidonian palaces, and gave unto the fisher’s hand the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’
The print after Raphael’s cartoon of ‘Christ giving the Keys to St Peter’ represented on the wall on the right has evidently been placed there deliberately to bear out the text. An open Bible lies in front of the missing fisherman’s mother who is comforting the young wife. A candle placed on the window-sill as a beacon has flickered out.
The Naturalist style was viciously criticised by Sickert, as a result of which all the Newlyn members left the New English Art Club


Henry Scott Tuke, Our Jack, portrait of Jack Rolling, c1886, oil on canvas, 51 x 32 cm, The Tuke Collection, Winchester, UK


Laura Knight, The Beach, 1909, oil on canvas, 127 x 152 cm, Tyne & Wear Museum, Newcastle, UK

The Beach brings together studies made at Staithes and at Newlyn. The children have, as Elizabeth Knowles comments in “Laura Knight in the Open Air”, been taken ‘out from a dim cottage interior into the brilliant light’ and the North Yorkshire coast re-located, like Laura, to southern climes. Laura said herself “in it I painted Staithes rather than Newlyn”


Harold Knight, In the Spring, 1908, oil on canvas, 132 x 158 cm, Tyne & Wear Museum, Newcastle, UK

Harold’s artistic achievements have never been fully explored or evaluated in depth, despite his being a highly accomplished painter, and a great portrait artist. Nor has Harold Knight been treated fairly in his own right, too often being represented as withdrawn and repressed, existing in the shadow of his flamboyant wife, a muted background against which Laura performed her vibrant excesses. Yet those who met and knew Harold considered him to be a quiet, sober, mild-mannered man. He was a good conversationalist, well informed, not just about art but about national and international affairs, displaying a lot of common sense, pragmatic and highly respected both as a man and as a painter. Laura herself was to say in later life that Harold gave her the stability and discipline she needed.


Laura Knight, Cheyne Walk, 1908, oil on canvas, 48 x 58 cm, Art Gallery, Leeds, UK

At the end of 1908 Laura was elected Associate of the Old Watercolour Society and in the new year travelled to London to receive her diploma, staying overnight with old Nottingham friends, Ernest Gillick, who had been a fellow student at the Art School, and his wife. Dedicated to the plein air philosophy, she could not resist prolonging her visit so that she might paint the recent snowfall in the street outside their house in Cheyne Walk. At once she went out to buy canvas, brushes, paints and galoshes and set up an easel on the pavement.She worked all that day and the next, numbed by the cold. The resulting picture was exhibited at the Academy in the summer of 1909.

Between 1909 and 1910, Laura worked on two large canvases

Laura Knight, Flying a Kite, 1910, oil on canvas, 150 x 180 cm, Iziko Museums, Cape Town, South Africa

Laura Knight, The Boys, 1910, oil on canvas, 152 x 183 cm, Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Alfred Munnings arrived in Newlyn in 1909, and soon caused all sorts of trouble.

Harold Knight, Alfred Munnings Reading, c1911, oil on canvas, Private Collection

This painting was found in 2009, hidden on the back of Laura Knight’s Carnaval, 1915.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to why she should have hidden it. She liked Munnings for his extrovert behaviour, so much like her own. It is possible that she wanted to remove the canvas from Harold’s studio, since he had become irritated by the newcomer.

Shortly after Munnings had established himself in Newlyn, Florence Carter-Wood arrived. She was the sister of Joey, who lived there, although he was not an artist. Florence was beautiful and immediately sought after as a model.

Left, Harold Knight, Florence Carter-Wood, 1910, oil on canvas, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, A Girl Reading, probably Florence Carter-Wood, 1910, watercolour, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection

Harold Knight, Afternoon Tea, c1910, oil on canvas, 193 x 152 cm, Private Collection

The scene is the sitting room in Sandy Cove, the house owned by another artist, Garnett Wolsey, who is present as the butler. Florence is on the left and Laura, dressed in blue, is in the centre.


Alfred Munnings, Morning Ride, oil on canvas, 51 x 62 cm, Private Collection

Munnings became infatuated with her, although they could not have been more different. He was the son of a Suffolk miller, she was from a wealthy brewing family. He behaved outrageously, she was naïve, conventional and innocent. They were married in 1912, and Florence attempted suicide on her wedding night, by taking poison. She was successful in her second attempt two years later.

In her autobiography, Laura simply states that “a much loved member of our community has been taken from us”, but Munnings does not refer to his first wife at any point in his own autobiography.

Briefly, back to Laura:

Laura Knight, Self Portrait, with model, 1913, oil on canvas, 152 x 128 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

The model is Ella Naper, an artist friend of Laura., and the painting is a bold statement about the ability of women to paint hitherto taboo subjects.

Two portraits of Dolly Henry, a model from London, whom Laura admired for her vitality, shrewdness, and a hint of violent temper. She was the girl friend of John Currie, a painter.

Left, Laura Knight, Rose and Gold, 1914, oil on canvas, 61 x51 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, Marshmallows, 1914, oil on canvas, Private Collection

John Currie, Self Portrait, 1905, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

Currie was a member of the Slade Art Group, and his friends included Mark Gertler and C R W Nevinson. He met Dolly when she was seventeen, fell in love and left his wife in 1911.

John Currie, The Supper, 1912-1914, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

The detail shows John & Dolly kissing.

Left, John Currie, Head of a Girl, 1913, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK, and right, John Currie, The Witch, 1913, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

On 8 October, 1914, Currie shot Dolly, and then killed himself.

Not everyone in Newlyn was surprised. Augustus John said “We all got sick of her. She was an attractive girl, or used to be when I new her first, but she seems to habve deteriorated into a deceitful little bitch”.

The Knights blamed themselves, since Harold, misjudging Dolly’s claims that Currie would harm her, had given him her address in London.

Calm returned.

Left, Laura Knight, Bathing, c1912, oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, The Cornish Coast,1917, oil on canvas, 65 x 76 cm, National Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, UK

Left,Laura Knight, The Green Sea, Lamorna, oil on canvas, 61 x 76 cm, Private Collection, and right Laura Knight, A Dark Pool, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Laura Knight, Logan’s Rock, c1916, oil on canvas, 67 x 70 cm, Private Collection

The Knights moved to London in 1918, but often returned to Newlyn. Harold died there in 1961,

BT, Meeting No22, 7 August, 2018




Arts Council England and HMRC administer the Acceptance in Lieu scheme (AIL) and the Cultural Gifts scheme (CGS).  AIL enables those with a liability for inheritance tax or estate duty to pay that liability with heritage property which may consist of works of art, other objects or land and buildings.  The AIL panel of the Arts Council will apply criteria to establish whether the property offered is pre-eminent according to those criteria.  CGS is for living donors to offer such property.  Acceptance under either scheme affords significant tax advantage in comparison to an open market sale.

Each year the panel publishes on line a report of its activities identifying the property accepted and its value.  The images shown here are taken from the 2017 report.  To see more details of the operation of the scheme, of this report and others: enter  “Acceptance in lieu annual reports” in your browser.




CHINCHILLA by Peter Carl Fabergé: one of nine animals accepted under CGS from Nicholas Snowman the son of Kenneth Snowman the leading British expert on Fabergé.   Permanently allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


ORCHIDS by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder: accepted under CGS from Dr Sheila Ross who qualified as a doctor at Glasgow University fifty years ago. Allocated at her request to that university for the Hunterian Museum.


ETRETAT by Claude Monet (pastel): AIL from the estate of Miss Valerie Middleton whose father Royan Middleton of Aberdeen was an early British collector of Monet’s works.   Permanently allocated to the Scottish National Gallery.


WINE GLASSES painted in oils by John Singer Sargent in 1874 at age nineteen years:  AIL from the estate of Sir Philip Sassoon connoisseur and patron of the arts and Sargent’s friend.  Temporarily allocated to the National Gallery.


CASTLE HOWARD ANTIQUITIES (statuary): AIL and allocated to the National Museums Liverpool but remaining at Castle Howard in recognition of the added value of seeing the statues in situ.


EPIDAUROS 11 by Dame Barbara Hepworth: AIL from the estate of Barbara Hepworth and permanently allocated to the Tate at St Ives in situ on the Malakoff terrace.


1932 (profile: Venetian red) oil and pencil work by Ben Nicholson: AIL from the estate of Elisabeth Swan the daughter of Jim Ede, collector and creator of Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.   Incorporates Barbara Hepworth’s profile.  Permanently allocated to the Scottish National Gallery.


THE OLD CINEMA by L.S.Lowry:   AIL from the estate of Miss Valerie Middleton. Temporarily allocated to the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

NG, Meeting No21, 24 July 2018

Belles de Jour


“Belles de Jour”

An exhibition at the Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers, visited on 9 September, 2016

The exhibition featured works by female artists and those with a female model, from the collections in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nantes.

There were about seventy works displayed, of which this is a selection.

The artists are in alphabetical order.


Jacques-Émile Blanche, La comtesse Bibesco Bassaraba de Brancovan, 1912, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Blanche was a pupil of Henri Gervex, and supported by Henri Fantin-Latour and Édouard Manet.
The Comtesse de Brancovan was a poet and socialite, known for her often cruel humour. Here, she is wearing mourning dress following the death of her mother in law.


Jacques Emile Blanche, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, 1895, oil on canvas, 93 x 74 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

This was not in the exhibition, but appeared in the earlier talk on Aubrey Beardsley.


Henri Boutet, Femme se promenant sur un pont, 1883, etching, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Known as “le maître du corset”, Boutet published, in 1902, “Les Modes Féminines du XIXe Siècle”, a collection of one hundred etchings etchings showing the development of women’s fashion throughout the nineteenth century


Romaine Brooks, Gabriele d’Annunzio, le poéte en exil, 1912, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

It was d’Annunzio who gave Romaine Brooks the nickname Cinerina, with reference to her ash coloured palette.


Romaine Brooks, Vénus triste, 1916-1917, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Purporting to follow the tradition of the reclining Venus, the painting reflects the fascination of Brooks for her model and lover, the dancer Ida Rubenstein


Romaine Brooks, Azalées Blanches, 1910, oil on canvas, 151 x 272 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

This painting was not in the exhibition. The subject is the same as Vénus triste, but the model is anonymous.


Jules Chéret, La femme à l’ombrelle rouge, oil on wood, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes

Chéret was the inventor of the modern colour poster, having founded his printing works in 1866.
He was a friend of Rodin and Monet.


Jules Chéret, La diaphane. Poudre de riz. Sarah Bernhard, 1898, Poster

Not in the exhibition, but included as a representation of his work.


Kees van Dongen, Passe-temps honnète, c1920, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes

van Dongen painted much of his early work in the red light district of Rotterdam.
He exhibited with the Fauves in 1905, and collaborated with the expressionist group Die Brücke.


Henri-Pierre Hippolyte Dubois, Portrait de la marquise de Girard de Châteauvieux, 1877, oil on canvas, 178 x 239 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France


Valentine Gross-Hugo, Karsavina dans le “Spectre de la rose », 1912, wax on wood, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes


Valentine Gross-Hugo, Karsavina et Nijinsky dans le “Spectre de la rose”, 1912, wax on wood, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Gross was passionate about the ballet, and painted in wax to show the fluid movements of the dancers, after sketches made at the time.


Charles Guérin, La dame aux bracelets, 1922, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes


Hermann Göhler, Portrait de femme, 1902, oil on cardboard, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes


Wilhelm Hagborg, Portrait de femme å la robe noire (portrait de Mme Gerda Hagborg ?), c1890, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen

Hagborg was a Swedish naturalist painter in the style of Breton, Bastien-Lepage and Friant. He was also known as a portrait painter, and the model here is probably his wife.


Tamara de Lempicka, Kizette en rose, 1927, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes

Lempicka was a pupil of André Lhote (see below), and often used her reluctant and much neglected daughter as a model.


Tamara de Lempicka, Kizette on the Balcony, 1927, oil on canvas

Not in the exhibition.


André Lhote, Femme assise, c 1925, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Although he appreciated the work of the cubists, Lhote always maintained a link with the classical style of portraiture


Sarah Lipska, Antoine et ses réves, c1934, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Antoine was a noted hairdresser of his day. Lipska also designed his apartment, including a glass coffin which he used as his bed.


Sarah Lipska, Buste de Colette, 1954, pink cement, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes


Maurice Marinot, Nu à l’atelier, 1905, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

Marinot was associated with the Fauves, and is better known for his work in glass.


Jean Metzinger, Nu à la fenétre, s.d, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes

Metzinger became a painter after meeting Robert Delauny in Paris in 1903. His early involvement with cubism made him an influential artist and leading theorist of the movement.


Suzanne Valadon, Les Baigneuses, 1923, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes

Valadon began her career as a model, posing for Puvis de Chavannes, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, before becoming an established painter. She was the mother of Maurice Utrillo.


Félix Vallatton, Femme lisant, 1921, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes

BT, Meeting No21, 24 July 2018

Laura Knight, Staithes


Laura’s Studio at Staithes, 1898

Laura and Harold needed a place that would offer the inspiration they had failed to find in Skegness. The answer came from Thomas Barratt, a teacher at the Nottingham Schoool of Art, who said: ‘Go to Staithes … there is no place so splendid for an artist in the whole of England. I have a cottage there I go to every summer. Harold and you will want to spend all your time painting’. And so in the late summer of 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, to Staithes they all went.

When the railway came to Staithes in 1883 some three hundred fishermen were working out of the port, with the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway running three trains a week from the station at the bank top to transport the catch to markets nationwide. Yet the community below maintained its self-contained isolation. They considered even those who lived and worked “up top” as foreigners. Even so, for all its apartness, Staithes could not ignore the trickle of outsiders who came to the village: painters attracted by its picturesque character, its dramatic weather, strong light and long days. Seeking out remote, rural and coastal places, they were part of the new movement that was transforming the art-world at home and abroad. They brought with them modernity and a whiff of revolution to this remote place.

Left: Mark Senior, Runswick Bay, c1883, oil on canvas, 51 x 36 cm, Private Collection
Top right: Frederick Jackson, In the Garden, 1886, oil on canvas
Bottom right: Gilbert Foster, Wild Flowers in Yorkshire, before 1906, oil on canvas

By 1880 three influential artists were working in the Staithes-Whitby area: Gilbert Foster, Frederick Jackson and Mark Senior.
They established what was to be a loosely associated colony of painters resident there for over 30 years and known as the “Staithes Group”. Harold and Laura were associated with Staithes for over ten years (from their first visit in 1897 to their removal to Newlyn in 1907) and it was at Staithes that both of them threw off the restraints of academic art and provincial attitudes. As Laura affirmed, Staithes was for her a ‘tremendous influence on work, life and power of endurance’.
She found herself as an artist at Staithes.


Laura and Harold married in 1903; he was 29, she 26. They had been companions since she entered Nottingham School of Art when Laura was 13. Harold died in 1961 at the age of 87, after 58 years of marriage.
In this photograph Harold, a self-effacing man, is standing at the back.

He became a well known artist, specialising in portraits


Harold Knight, Arthur Balfour, 1st Baron Riverdale, 1936, oil on canvas, 76 x 63 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

He painted Laura, on several occassions. Here, along with her portrait of her sister, is the first, painted shortly before her fifteenth birthday


Harold Knight, Laura Johnson, 1892, oil on canvas, Private Collection


Laura Knight, Sis, 1896, oil on canvas, 46 x 56 cm, Private Collection.


Laura Knight, Packing Fish on the Quay at Staithes, c1899, oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection


Laura Knight, Cobles at Runswick, 1897-1907, oil on board, 39 x 29 cm, Brockfield Hall, nr York, UK



Laura Knight, A mother and child in a kitchen, 1905-1908, oil on canvas, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection

This appears to have been painted between Laura and Harold Knight’s first trip to the Laren community in the Netherlands, in 1905, and their leaving Yorkshire to move to Cornwall in 1908. After their wedding in 1903, the Knights generally stayed with a Mrs Bowman when returning to the Staithes area in Yorkshire and in between visits to Laren. She lived in nearby Roxby, and the couple would walk over the fields every day down to Staithes, where they had their studios. Laura painted several oils similar in style to A mother and child in a kitchen, using Mrs Bowman’s cottage interior as a background. A similar work, Dressing the Children, below, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1906, Both show some Dutch influence, gained from the Knight’s trips to Laren. Laura painted several works while in Staithes, subjects ranging from old women in interiors performing simple household tasks such as knitting, peeling potatoes and plucking geese, to children playing on the beach. Laura paid her models in pennies, which small sum she could hardly afford.


Laura Knight, Dressing the Children, 1906, oil on canvas, 102 x 140 cm, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, UK


Laura Knight, The Girl & the Letter, 1906, oil on canvas, 102 x 127 cm, Harris Museums and Art Gallery, Preston, UK

Left: Laura Knight, The Elder Sister, c1907, oil on canvas, 33 x 25 cm, Touchstones, Rochdale, UK
Right: Laura Knight, The Rocking Chair, c1906-1907

The same scene and the same models, painted in different styles.

Left: Laura Knight, The Fishing Fleet, 1900, oil on canvas, 123 x 84 cm, Art Gallery, Bolton, UK
Right: Laura Knight, Fisherfolk Baiting Lines on the Cobbles, Staithes, date?, 45 x 54 cm, Private Collection


Laura Knight, On the Quayside, watercolour, Private Collection

Left: Harold Knight, The Storm, c1901, oil on canvas, 91 x 121 cm, Wycombe Museum, High Wycombe, UK
Right: Harold Knight, Grief, c1901, oil on canvas, Private Collection

The painting on the right is of a girl who was to marry Billy Uthank. He, his father and his brother were all drowned on the same day, a few days before the wedding.

The Knights had had enough of the raw pain of the place and, now that the winter set in, missed the companionship of other artists that they had enjoyed at Laren. Harold in particular was emotionally drained, tired of watching the never-ending tragedy of life on the Yorkshire coast. Yet Laura was reluctant to leave for she owed so much to the place. Staithes had offered her emotional and professional nourishment and throughout her life she would think back to her time in that ‘wildified place’ as marking a rite of passage. It was there, she says that ‘I … found my own way of seeing and trying to speak of it in pencil and colour, instead of copying other people, particularly Harold.’

The time had come to move on. So, they burned their unwanted canvases and looked south and west with the promise of warmer climes, longer days and brighter skies of Cornwall.


Laura Knight, Staithes, Yorkshire, 1900, oil on canvas

BT, Meeting No21, 24 July, 2018






Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970


Romaine Brooks, photograph c1994

Romaine Brooks, née Goddard, was an American painter who worked mostly in Paris and Capri. She specialised in portraiture and used a subdued tonal palette keyed to the colour grey.
She ignored contemporary artistic trends such as Cubism and Fauvism, drawing on her own original aesthetic inspired by the works of Walter Sickert, and James McNeill Whistler. Her subjects ranged from anonymous models to titled aristocrats. She is best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress, including her self-portrait of 1923, which is her most widely reproduced work.
Brooks had an unhappy childhood after her alcoholic father abandoned the family; her mother was emotionally abusive and her brother mentally ill. By her own account, her childhood cast a shadow over her whole life. She spent several years in Italy and France as a poor art student, then inherited a fortune upon her mother’s death in 1902. Wealth gave her the freedom to choose her own subjects. She often painted people close to her, such as the Italian writer and politician Gabriele D’Annunzio, the Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, and her partner of more than 50 years, the writer Natalie Barney.



Two early works

Romaine Brooks, La Jaquette rouge, 1910, oil on canvas, 239 x 149 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

in which attention is drawn to the model’s nudity by the jacket, and

Romaine Brooks, Azalées Blanches, 1910, oil on canvas, 151 x 272 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

Which has been compared to similar subjects by Manet and Goya

Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863, oil on canvas, 131 cm × 190 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris France
Francisco Goya, La maja desnuda, c1797-1800, oil on canvas, 97 x 190cm,  Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain


Romaine Brooks, Self-Portrait, 1923, oil on canvas, 118 x 68 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

The riding hat and coat and masculine tailoring suggest the conventions of aristocratic portraiture while also evoking a chic androgyny associated with the post World War I “new woman.” The choice of dress, which challenged conventional ideas of how women should look and behave, also enabled upper-class lesbians to identify and acknowledge one another.


Romaine Brooks, Ida Rubinstein, 1917, oil on canvas, 119 x 94 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

Brooks met the Russian dancer and Ida Rubinstein in Paris after her first performance as the title character in Gabriele D’Annunzio’s play The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, which combined religious history, androgyny, and erotic narrative. Rubinstein was already well known for her refined beauty and expressive gestures, and Brooks found her ideal in the tall, lithe, sensuous Rubinstein, who modelled for many sketches, paintings, and photographs that Romaine produced during their relationship, from 1911 to 1914.


Romaine Brooks, Peter (A Young English Girl), 1923-1924, oil on canvas, 92 x 62 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA


The British painter Hannah Gluckstein, 1895-1978, worked under the name Gluck but was known within her close circle of friends by her nickname, Peter. Gluck met Romaine Brooks in 1923, and the two agreed to sit for each other shortly thereafter, resulting in this portrait and an unfinished one of Brooks by Gluck. Like Brooks, Gluck frequently wore clothing inspired by men’s fashions that concealed her feminine figure. This androgynous attire was popular among upper class women at the time. It allowed them to experiment with fashion.


Romaine Brooks, Una, Lady Troubridge, 1924, oil on canvas, 127 x 76. cm,  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Una Troubridge was a British aristocrat, literary translator. She is remembered for her numerous translations from French and Italian, and is credited with introducing the French novelist Colette to English readers. She also wrote a biography of her longtime partner, Marguerite “John” Radclyffe Hall, author of the 1928 classic The Well of Loneliness. In 1908, Una married Admiral Sir Ernest Thomas Troubridge, but the union ended in 1915, the same year she met Hall.

Hall introduced Troubridge to Romaine Brooks, who captured her in this 1924 portrait. She has the sense of formality and importance typical of upper-class portraiture, but with the sitter’s prized dachshunds in place of the traditional hunting dog. Troubridge’s impeccably tailored clothing, cravat, and bobbed hair convey the fashionable and daring androgyny associated with the so-called new woman.


Romaine Brooks, Madame Errázuris, 1908 and 1910, oil on canvas, 239 x 148 cm Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Eugenia Huici Arguedas de Errázuriz was an influential interior designer. Many of the hallmarks of Brooks’s later portraiture are evident in the combination of respect and humour tinged with satire. Madame Errázuriz appears nearly overwhelmed by her ostentatious outfit as she gazes confidently, and slightly arrogantly, at the viewer.

She was painted by other artists

Left to right

Jacques-Emile Blanche, Portrait of Eugenia Huici Arguedas de Errazuriz. 1890, oil on canvas,163 x  86 cm,  The Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, TN, USA
John Singer Sargent, Madame Errazuriz or The Lady in Black, c1883, oil on canvas, 82 x 60 cm, Private Collection
John Singer Sargent, Madame Errazuriz, c1880-82, oil on canvas, 54 x 48 cm, Private Collection


Romaine Brooks, La Baronne Emile d’Erlanger, c1924, oil on canvas, 106 x 87 cm,  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Brooks probably met Marie Rose Antoinette Catherine Robert d’Aqueria de Rochegude, Baronne Emile d’Erlanger, in exclusive social circles in Paris and London, where the wealthy sitter was an arts patron who organised Brooks’s 1924 exhibition at London’s Alpine Club Gallery. Brooks pairs the baroness with an uncaged ocelot, whose spotted coat and direct gaze echo the sitter’s own. The animal lends an air of exoticism, sensuality, and humour to this forthright portrait.


William Bruce Ellis Ranken, Lady d’Erlanger, c1890-1910, oil on canvas, 127 x 101 cm, Museum, Portsmouth, UK


Romaine Brooks, La France Croisée, 1914, oil on canvas, 116 x 85 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

In La France Croisée, Brooks voiced her opposition to World War I and raised money for the Red Cross and French relief organisations. Ida Rubinstein, above, was the model for this heroic figure posed in a nurse’s uniform, with cross emblazoned against her dark cloak, against a windswept landscape outside the burning city of Ypres. This symbolic portrait of a valiant France was exhibited in 1915 at the Bernheim Gallery in Paris, along with four accompanying sonnets written by Gabriele D’Annunzio. The gallery offered reproductions for sale as a benefit to the Red Cross. For her contributions to the war effort, the French government awarded Brooks the Cross of the Legion of Honor in 1920. This award is visible as the bright red spot on Brooks’s lapel in her 1923 Self-Portrait, above.




The Guennol Lioness


The Guennol Lioness is said to have been found near Baghdad, Iraq, in 1931.
The sculpture had been acquired by a private collector, Alastair Bradley Martin in 1948 from the collection of Joseph Brummer, and had been on display at Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City from that time until 2007.
The limestone sculpture, carved in about 3000 BC, is just over 8 cm tall, and represents woman with the head of a lion
Its historical significance is that it is thought to have been created at approximately the same time as the first known use of the wheel, the development of cuneiform writing, and the emergence of the first cities.
Many ancient Near East deities were represented as anthropomorphic figures, illustrating the Mesopotamian belief that power over the physical world could be attained by combining the superior physical attributes of various species.

The owners decided to sell the sculpture, and it was sold for $57.2 million at Sotheby’s auction house on December 5, 2007. It was described by Sotheby’s as “one of the last known masterworks from the dawn of civilisation remaining in private hands.”Because the purchaser was anonymous, nobody is quite sure of the location. What we can know for sure, however, is that it is not available to the public, and that there is no indication that it will be again.

Can this be right?

BT, Meeting No 20, 10 July 2018

Laura Knight: Introduction

This is an introduction to the work of Laura Knight, 1877-1970
Later talks will be devoted to various aspects of her art and periods of her life.
These are set out below, each with a single example of her work.

Early life


Laura Knight, Sis, 1896, oil on canvas, 46 x 56 cm, Private Collection.



Laura Knight, Packing Fish on the Quay at Staithes, c1899, oil canvas, 61 x 52 cm, Private Collection



Photograph of Laura & Harold Knight, date unknown

Newlyn & Lamorna


Laura Knight, Boys Bathing, Newlyn Quay, 1910, oil on canvas, 70 x 93 cm, private Collection

The Circus


Laura Knight, Circus Matinee, 1938, Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby, UK

The Ballet


Laura Knight, Behind the Scenes in the Coulisses, 1920-25, oil on panel, 63 x 57 cm, Art Gallery, Falmouth, UK



Laura Knight, The Gypsy, c 1939, oil on canvas, 61x 41 cm, Tate gallery, London, UK



Laura Knight, Pearl Johnson, 1926-27, oil on canvas

World War II


Laura Knight, Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring, 1943, oil on canvas, 86 x 100 cm, Imperial War Museum, London, UK

Later Work


Laura Knight, The Cruel Sea, 1967, oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm, Museum & Art Gallery, Bolton, UK


BT, Meeting No 20, 10 July 2018

Falmouth Art Gallery


The Falmouth Art Gallery is situated above the Public Library in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK.
It was first opened in 1978, and after renovation with the help of National Lottery Funds, reopened in 1996.
The gallery exhibits range from automata to surrealism, with examples of the work of old masters, Victorian artists and the British & French Impressionists.

The following is a selection of works in the gallery, with the artists in alphabetical order.

Francis Bacon, Metropolitan Tryptych, 1974-77, 109 x 64 cm


Frank Brangwyn, Constructing South Pier, Mevagissey, 1888, oil on canvas, 51 x 76 cm


John Bratby, Portrait of Dr A L Rowse


Elizabeth Frink, Eagle; and Eagle in Flight


Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Rev Isaac Donnithorne, oil on canvas, 206 x 177 cm


Charles Napier Hemy, Falmouth Natives, 1890, oil on canvas, 81 x122 cm


William Hogarth, The Beggar’s Opera, Act III, 1790, engraving, 50 x 62 cm


Laura Knight, Behind the Scenes in the Coulisses, 1920-25, oil on panel, 63 x 57 cm


Roy Lichtenstein, Paper Plates


Henry Matisse, Coquelicots


Joan Miró, La Mélodie acidique, 1980


Henry Moore, Shipwreck I, coloured lithograph, 26 x 35 cm


Henry Moore, Girl at Desk, 1974, lithograph, 28 x 23 cm


Edvard Munch, Norwegian Landscape, 1908, etching


Alfred Munnings, The Gap, 1909, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm


Alfred Munnings, The Caravan, 1910, oil on canvas


Ben Nicholson, Heads, 1933


John Opie, A Beggar Boy, 1782, oil on canvas, 91 x 71 cm


Alfred Parsons, The Pear Orchard, 1903, oil on canvas, 79 x 111 cm


Giovanni Batista Piranesi, Veduta del tempio di Cibele, etching, 1758


Gwen Raverat, The River Roding, engraving


Rembrandt van Rijn, The Baptism of the Eunuch, etching


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Nue se baignant


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, 1892, etching


Joshua Reynolds, George Boscawen, 3rd Viscount Falmouth, mezzotint, 76 x 64 cm


Joshua Reynolds, Sir George Beydas Rodney, Rear Admiral of the Blues, mezzotint, 36 x 27 cm


John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Charles Napier Hemy, 1905, oil on canvas


Henry Scott Tuke, A Morning Gossip, 1885, 27 x 34 cm


Henry Scott Tuke, Georgie & Richard Fouracre, oil on canvas, 37 x 52 cm


Henry Scott Tuke, At the Quay, 14 x 22 cm


John William Waterhouse, The Bouquet, c1908, oil on canvas, 59 x 42 cm


Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, 1872-1898 was an English illustrator and author. His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis


Jacques Emile Blanche, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, 1895, oil on canvas, 93 x 74 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


Aubrey Beardsley, Self Portrait, 1892, pen & ink wash, 25 x 10 cm, British Museum, London, UK

Almost all of his work was executed in black and white. This is a rare example in colour


Aubrey Beardsley, Isolde, illustration in “Pan”, Berlin, dated 1900, after his death

Aubrey Beardsley, Illustrations for Oscar Wilde, “Salomé”, 1894


Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde at Work, 1893

Aubrey Beardsley, illustrations for Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur, 1893

Aubrey Beardsley, illustrations for the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, 1895
“The Masque of the Red Death” & “The Black Cat”


Aubrey Beardsley, Siegfried, Act II, 1893


Aubrey Beardsley, Ali Baba, 1897

EH, Meeting No 19, 26 June 2018

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolourist and printmaker. Both in his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.

He is probably best known for his 1942 painting Nighthawks


Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, oil on canvas, 84 x 152 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, IL, USA

Hopper was born in Nyak, NY, into a fairly prosperous family. His early training was at the New York School of Art, under William Merrit Chase, where George Bellows was also a student.

In 1905 he worked as a part time illustrator, and this is a cover for the Morse Dry Dock Company, from 1919


He also studied in Paris


Edward Hopper, Notre Dame, 1907


Edward Hopper, Couple Drinking, 1907, watercolour, 34 x 51 cm, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Edward Hopper, Les Poilus, 1918, etching, 16 x 18 cm


Edward Hopper, Summer, Interior, 1909, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

In 1924 he married Jo Nevison, also an artist. She gave up her art and devoted her life to Edward and the promotion of his work.


Edward Hopper, Jo, 1936, oil on canvas, 40 x 41 cm, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

She modelled for him on numerous occasions


Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Edward Hopper, Two Comedians, 1965, oil on canvas, Private Collection

This work, painted two years before his death, has usually been interpreted as a bowing out, or final curtain for Edward and Jo.

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Evening, 1939, oil on canvas, 76 x 102 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA; and Cape Cod Morning, 1950, oil on canvas, 87 x 102 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA

Hopper’s paintings are known for their sense of loneliness and alienation

Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939, oil on canvas, 80 x 102 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; and Office at Night, 1940, oil on canvas, 56 x 54 cm, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Edward Hopper, Rooms for Tourists, 1945, oil on canvas, 77 x 107 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA; and a preparatory sketch for the painting, Rooms for Tourists, 1945, Private Collection

and, finally, much loved by Hitchcock!


Edward Hopper, Haskell’s House, 1924, watercolour, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

RA, Meeting No 19, 26 June 2018

Flaming June


Frederick Leighton, Flaming June, 1895, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, Museo de Arte, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Shortly after it was painted, the picture diasappeared, only to be found again in 1960. By that time Victorian art was no longer popular, and when exhibited at auction it failed to reach its reserve price of what would today amount to about $1400.
Shortly afterwords the canvas was bought by the Museum in Puerto Rico.
Since then, it has been exhibited all over world. Kenneth Clark, the author of the original TV series, “Civilisation” in 1969, stated that it was one of the most universally loved of all paintings.

BT, Meeting No 19, 26 June 2018

Tarsila do Amaral, 1886-1973

Tarsila do Amaral, known simply as Tarsila, is considered one of the leading Latin American modernist artists. She was a member of the Grupo dos Cinco, which was a group of five Brazilian artists who are considered to be the greatest influence in the modern art movement in Brazil. The other members were Anita Malfatti, Menotti Del Picchia, Mário de Andrade, and Oswald de Andrade. Tarsila was also instrumental in the formation of the Antropofagia Movement, 1928-1929, and it was she who inspired Oswald de Andrade’s Cannibal Manifesto.


Four self portraits, left to right:
Tarsila do Amaral, Auto-retrato I, 1924, Acervo Artístico-Cultural dos Palácios do Governo do Estado de S. Paulo, Brazil
Tarsila do Amaral, Auto-Retrato [Manteau Rouge], 1923, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tarsila do Amaral, Auto-Retrato
Tarsila do Amaral, Auto-Retrato, 1937

Tarsila was born in Capivari, a small town in the countryside of the state of São Paulo. She was born to a wealthy family of farmers and landowners who grew coffee, two years before the end of slavery in Brazil. At that time in Brazil, women were not encouraged to seek higher education, especially if they came from affluent families, but, despite coming from a well-to-do family, Tarsila had support in obtaining higher education. As a teenager, Tarsila and her parents travelled to Spain, where she began drawing and painting copies of the artwork she saw.

Three portraits of her by other artists, left to right:
Cavall, Retrato de Tarsila do Amaral
Anita Malfatti, Retrato de Tarsila, Acevo MASP, São Paulo, Brazil
Lasar Segall, Tarsila do Amaral

I know nothing about Carvall, but Mafatti was part of O Grupo dos Cinco, and Lasar was influenced by German expressionism,  noted for his depictions of human suffering.

Three portraits by Tarsila, left to right:

Tarsila do Amaral, Retrato Azul [Sérgio Milliet], 1923, Coleção Particular
Tarsila do Amaral, Retrato de Mário de Andrade, 1922, Acervo Artístico-Cultural dos Palácios do Governo do Estado de S. Paulo, Brazil
Tarsila do Amaral, Retrato de Oswaldo de Andrade, 1923, Museu de Arte Brasileira, São Paulo, Brazil

In 1916, do Amaral studied painting in São Paulo, and later with the academic painter Pedro Alexandrino, a respected but conservative teacher. Because Brazil lacked a public art museum or significant commercial gallery until after World War II, the Brazilian art world was aesthetically conservative and exposure to international trends was limited. Tarsila studied in Paris from 1920 to 1922 at the Académie Julian in Paris, where she met Fernand Léger, André Lhôte & Albert Gleizes.