Thursday, October 23, 2008

(Sir) John Lavery - Portrait Studies

[Portrait Studies of the Lady Duveen of Millbank, the Hon. Dorothy Duveen and Miss Shelagh Morrison-Bell]

Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 9,600 GBP
inscribed with the names of the sitters on the reverse

oil on canvasboard
20 by 15 3/4 in.

The present three portrait studies were made in preparation for Lavery's impressive lost painting of 1931 Their Majesties' Court, Buckingham Palace (FIG 1.) a painting which, according to the critic for The National Geographic 'caused a stir at this year's [1931] Royal Academy and... won unstinted praise from the critics...' (Kenneth McConkey, Sir John Lavery, 1993, p. 181). The painting was regarded as providing 'ample evidence of the skill that has made Sir John the most sought after Court and Society portraitist of our time' (ibid McConkey, p. 181). The three studies would have been made from sittings at Lavery's studio from which he painted the large painting of the women of George V's court. The portraits for which these studies were made appear in the right foreground of Their Majesties' Court, Buckingham Palace.

Baroness Elsie Duveen (née Salomon, 1881-1963) was a tobacco heiress who became the wife of the art dealer and benefactor the first Lord Joseph Joel Duveen after they met at a party held to celebrate his planned marriage to another woman. Duveen was great champion of British art in North America and held exhibitions of Lavery's work at the Duveen Galleries in New York. He was a valuable supporter of Lavery in the early 1920s and an impressive society portrait of Joseph with his wife and daughter Dolly with their wire-haired terriers at their Fifth Avenue apartment in New York was painted by him in 1937 (Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston Upon Hull).

The munificent socialite Dorothy Rose Burns (née Duveen, 1903-1985) was the only child of Baron and Baroness Duveen. Her striking portrait was painted by Augustus John in the 1940s (National Portrait Gallery, London).

Shelagh Jocelyn Morrison-Bell was the daughter of the politician and aide-de-camp Major Sir Arthur Clive Morrison-Bell and Lilah Katherine Julia Wingfield. She married William Cooper Moore on the 17th April 1943.

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