Tuesday, 5 September 2017


No, I've changed my mind. She's a first wife ... Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Don't you love those brooding eyes and the silk scarf? You could write a story around almost every painting in this exhibition. One interesting point that was made that the artists were born before the age of the motor car and lived to see space travel.

Woman reclining, 1928, Meredith Frampton

Marguerite Kelsey, a professional model, was only 19 - but such elegance and poise! This painting (from the Tate) has such perfect finish that you can even see the perfect half-moons on her perfectly manicured pale pink nails. Meredith Frampton, perhaps confusingly, was male.

Elsie, Hilda Carline, 1929

But it's not all about society ladies. Hilda Carline was Stanley Spencer's first wife and Elsie was their  maid who mediated during their quarrels. I didn't know whether to be more taken by her shoes and those shiny art.silk stockings - for Sunday best or day off - or the kitchen range, pot-holders and rug. (Remember the smell of rugs slightly grimy with coal dust?)
Of course, it does make you think of all the forgotten female artists who would have done so much better to have remained unmarried to their 'genius' husbands. I've just finished reading the letters of lovely, lively Ida John, who gave up her own work, and was dead of puerperal fever at 30.

The Welsh Mole Catcher, Stanley Lewis

Of course, men get neglected, too. You can read the story of Stanley Lewis here. This was 'picture of the year' at the Royal Academy in 1937. Do take a look on ArtUK where you can see the amazing detail of all these paintings. What did I do with myself beforeArtUK was invented!

The Rat Catcher, Gilbert Spencer, 1922

And just for balance, here's the rat catcher, too. Love the paper fan in the grate and the spent matches on  the floor.


Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Some wonderful pictures here, Mary. I love your choices.

I must check out the Ida John book...I've got an Augustus John biography but haven't read it yet.

karenb said...

I totally agree with you about the lovely Ida.
She never should have married that scoundrel Augustus and
based on her letters she wasn't much of a mother either.She
should have stuck to her art.

Mary said...

I enjoyed the letters, Veronica, after nearly giving up because the early teenage ones are rather dull, overwrought girlish friendships - but once Dorelia comes on the scene, they're heartbreaking.
I could have strangled Augustus, Karen - what on earth did she see in him! But I felt sorry for her having all those children she didn't want and longed for her to kick him out of bed. And then to die having another. Thank heavens for the pill.