Domenico Gnoli (b. 1933 – d. 1970), A Bullring (a stage set for a marionette theatre)*
created for ‘The Spanish Ballet’, written and performed by Il Teatro delle Quattro Staggioni, c. 1957–58 Oil and sand on card Three elements: One central panel flanked by two ‘wings’, presented in a box frame which is Framed: Height 96.5 cm (h) x 216.6 cm (w) x 16 cm (d) Price on application
Rome in the 1950s celebrated the end of the war with a burst of creative energy. Hollywood actress Virginia Campbell and her husband John Becker made it their home and established a place in which writers, actors and painters met and were entertained by marionette shows, written by John and designed, produced and directed by Ginny. Among their guests, and sometime participants in the productions, were Robert Graves, Alice B. Toklas, Karen Blixen, Ingrid Bergman and Federico Fellini.
Domenico Gnoli was amongst those who came into the Beckers’ orbit. Now recognised as one of the most important Italian artists of the twentieth century, Gnoli had his first solo show of drawings in Rome in 1951 at the La Cassapanca gallery, and during the years that followed his energetic and ambitious production extended to include scenography for theatres in Rome, Zurich, Paris and London. In spite of his success as a set designer, by 1956 Gnoli decided to move away from the theatre and concentrate instead on drawing and painting. His first solo show in New York opened at the Sagittarius gallery and a year later he moved to the city, while all the time maintaining close links with Rome. During one return trip to the Italian capital, in advance of his 1958 exhibition at the Obelisco Gallery, he created two painted sets for the Virginia Campbell’s marionette theatre. Made specifically for the only production without a dialogue, ‘The Spanish Ballet’, Gnoli achieves his signature rough-surface by mixing of sand with the pigment.
Provenance: By descent from Virginia Campbell (1914-2016).
This work is promised as a loan to the forthcoming Domenico Gnoli exhibition at the Fondazione Prada, Milan,
which will run from the 28 October 2021 - 28 February 2022.
Sir John Lavery (b. 1856 – d. 1944), The Garden, Sidi bou Said
Oil on canvas Signed lower right, J Lavery 50.8 x 60.9 cm.
Price: £240,000 inc. VAT
In April 1919, his service as Official War Artist concluded, Lavery received an invitation to stay at Dar Ennejma Ezzahra, the Moorish palace at Sidi Bou Said owned by Rodolphe d’Erlanger, overlooking the Bay of Tunis. The fourth son of Baron Frédéric Emile d’Erlanger, Rodolphe (1872-1932) had left the family’s banking business to become an ethnomusicologist and talented painter. While researching his six-volume study of Arab music, d’Erlanger had acquired the hilltop property, renovating and extending it, and creating a ‘blue and white’ Andalusian-style village around it.
Lavery got to know the family during the war when asked to paint a portrait-interior of the drawing room of Falconwood, Baron Emile’s house on Shooter’s Hill. At the same time, he offered vocal support to the family when the d’Erlangers were threatened with internment as enemy aliens. It is thought that the offer to visit Dar Ennejma Ezzahra came as a token of gratitude.
Lavery travelled to Sidi Bou Said with his wife Hazel, and tall fourteen-year-old stepdaughter Alice – the two figures in the present canvas,
standing in the splendid palace garden.
Provenance: Private Collection, by family descent.
Sir John Lavery (b. 1856 – d. 1944), Hampstead Heath, 1921 Oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.2 cm.
Signed lower right, ‘J Lavery’; also signed, inscribed and dated verso ‘HAMPSTEAD HEATH BY JOHN LAVERY 1921’
Price: £125,000 inc. VAT
John Lavery’s stout easel and portable rack containing up to five 25 x 30 inch canvases would travel everywhere with him, even if the journey was little more than the distance from Kensington to Hampstead. In the summer of 1921, it seemed appropriate that a show devoted to scenes of recreation and leisure should be opened by a view of the Heath.
As Constable had discovered a hundred years before, there was nothing so majestic as the rolling hills stretching south towards the Thames and north into neighbouring Hertfordshire. These were what Lavery faced in the present work, ‘not worrying’ in the words of one critic, ‘about self-expression or other modern ideas’. Like his predecessor he could not help but be impressed by the dramatic skyscapes that were visible from this vantage point. In the present work, Lavery restores the drama of Constable’s magisterial sketches; his walkers are no more than distant touches of pigment under a reddening sky.
Further Literature: ‘London Letter’, Aberdeen Press, 22 October 1921, p. 4; ‘The Fresh Air Artist’, Birmingham Daily Gazette, 22 October 1921, p. 4; ‘Mr Churchill as Art Critic’, Yorkshire Post, 22 October 1921, p. 10.
Exhibitions: London, Alpine Club, ‘Pictures of Morocco, the Riviera and other Scenes by Sir John Lavery RA’, 1921, no.1
Harold Knight (b. 1874–d. 1961), A Grey Day (Sennen Cove looking towards Pengwynver, Cornwall) Oil on canvas 61 x 76.3 cm. Signed lower right ‘Harold Knight’ Price: £32,000 inc. VAT (plus ARR)
In this atmospheric scene, Knight’s viewpoint is from Sennen Cove looking towards Pengwynver, Cornwall. Together with his wife Laura, Harold Knight had moved to Cornwall in 1907, to Newlyn, a fishing port, where they became part of the Newlyn School of painters who rejected the Victorian traditions and adopted the method of working en plein air. With its serene palette and minimalist composition, A Grey Day accurately evokes a cool, grey day on the Cornish coast.
Provenance: With The Upper Grosvenor Galleries, London, 31 May 1967, no. 75.
Private Collection, acquired at The Upper Grosvenor Galleries; and thence by descent.
Frank Copnall (b. 1870 – d. 1949), Portrait of Miss Elsa Waring, 1904 Oil on canvas 126.5 x 62.5 cm. Signed upper left ‘Frank T Copnall’ Price: £32,000 inc. VAT
At a time when Sargent's pyrotechnics dominated portraiture at the Royal Academy, artists like Frank Copnall as well as Edward Arthur Walton eschewed flashy brushwork in favour of Whistlerian decorum. Copnall's portrait of Miss Elsa Waring is an exquisite exercise in white and ivory tones featuring elegant pink accents which recall Whistler's ‘Harmony in Pink and Grey: Portrait of Lady Meux’ (Frick Collection, New York). Subtle and sympathetic observation of personality also characterise Copnall's treatment of Miss Elsa Waring.
Elsa Waring (1887-1963) was the younger daughter of John William Waring (1858-1913) and of Amelia Catherine née Miller (1859 - 1914). On 6 Jan 1909 she married Miles Beevor (1879-1969). She divorced in 1920, as reported by The Times on 3 June 1920: "Lieutenant-Colonel Miles Beevor, D.S.O., sued in this undefended case for a divorce from Mrs. Elsa Beevor (née Waring) on the ground of her adultery with Stanley Mayhew."
Elsa's father John William Waring was the brother of Samuel J. Waring (1860-1940) of Liverpool, who became Lord Waring, a British industrialist, public servant and benefactor. Lord Waring, "was one of the boldest businessmen of his age, more enterprising than either Selfridge or Maple. By means of a great firm and department store, Waring and Gillow, which in its heyday had branches worldwide, Waring made a fortune, almost lost it, then recovered his position during the First World War, only to meet failure again during the Depression…”
London, Royal Academy, 1905.
Haidee Becker (b.1950), Spring Blossom, 2021 Oil on canvas 149.8 x 91.4 cm. Signed verso Price: £16,000 inc. VAT
Becker has a wonderful gift for communicating the structure of a flower or branch with a few brushstrokes, but the extraordinary power and quality of her ‘flower paintings’ lie in her ability to communicate a whole mood or atmosphere. Using a tightly restricted harmony of colours she creates an air of reverie, as Ted Hughes (1930-1988) described:
‘They have, for me, the essential quality; the revelation of a passionate inwardness, like portraits of hypnagogic images just about to materialise, lit and shadowed with a turbulent yet magnetic inner form. The depth is the psychological depth of great sweetness - gently and powerfully focused’
Haidee Becker was a pupil of Uli Nimptsch and Adrian Ryan, and lives and works in London. She is represented exclusively by