Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Philip Alexius de Laszlo - Portrait of Miss Constance Ellen Guinness

Price Realized £13,750

signed, inscribed and dated 'to Connolly [?]/Phillipo/1902' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21 x 17 in. (53.3 x 43.2 cm.)

This portrait of Constance Guinness was painted by de László in Brittany in September 1902. Constance was one of his sisters-in-law, the artist having married Lucy, a member of the banking branch of the Guinness family, in June 1900.

It was in July 1902, in between periods of intense work on two large group portraits of the de Gramont family, that de László joined Lucy, Constance, and his friend the art historian Gbor de Trey for a holiday in Rothneuf, near Saint-Malo. As was typical for the artist, this was not a restful trip: as well as painting and drawing several girls in Breton dress ([2544], [8978], [111883]), and executing a genre painting of a young Breton widow with her two children [8984], de László, during the two months he spent there, made portrait drawings of his holiday companions, a large three-quarter-length portrait in oil of Lucy [11474], and the present portrait of her sister Constance.

As Lucy recorded in her diary at the time: "He [...] has done a head in oils of Con. & two red chalk of her - one of Trey - & many kleine Skitz[z]en." One of the two red chalk drawings of Constance mentioned shows her wearing a hat [3846], whilst the second is a worked up preparatory study for the present portrait, in the same pose, but head only, inscribed "Souvenir de Rotheneuf", and dated September 1902 [3840].

The warm palette adopted for this intimate portrait, notably its maroon background, is typical of de László's early works. It is the only one he painted of "Connely", Constance's nickname.

Constance Ellen Guinness was born on 7 April 1876, the youngest of the twelve children of Henry Guinness and his wife Emmelina Brown of Burton Hall, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. In 1903, she married Captain Ernest Craig-Brown [3876], of The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. She spent much of her married life in India where her husband was Brigadier-General commanding the Cameron Highlanders in Karachi, Simla and Kashmir. They had two daughters, Jean [3881] and Bridget [3837] and a son, Alan [3829]. Constance died on 22 December 1964, aged eighty-eight.

We are grateful to Caroline Corbeau-Parsons for writing a catalogue entry for this portrait, which is to be included in the Philip de László catalogue raisonné online. (www.delaszlocatalogueraisonne.com)

The Hon. Mrs de Laszlo and a team of editors are compiling the catalogue raisonné of the artist's work. Caroline Corbeau-Parsons is the British and French Editor. Please see www.delaszloarchivetrust.com or contact catalogue@delaszlo.com for more information.

1 Small Sketches
2 László, Lucy de, op, cit, 9 September 1902 entry, p.36.


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