Friday, July 16, 2010

the artist's muse

When I was in transition year in school I did a week’s work experience in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork city. I remember coming back early from my lunch breaks and wandering around the gallery and staring at the same paintings day after day. A painting of Lady Hazel Lavery by Sir John Lavery hung on the high stair way wall and it was probably one of my favourites there. Despite the fact that I live in Cork, I actually had not wandered around the gallery properly since then – terrible state of affairs, I must admit – until about a month ago. I noticed right away that the painting had been removed from its spot, and briefly, feelings of sorrow and loss consumed me – I really wanted to see this painting again. Fortunately, the portrait had only been moved to the brighter upstairs gallery (straight ahead once you go upstairs) where one could properly admire the sumptuous work.
The Red Rose, Sir John Lavery, 1923, the painting that intitially captured my imagination

Yesterday an exhibition celebrating the art of Sir John Lavery, Sir John Lavery: Passion and Politics, opened in the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. His beautiful wife, the aforementioned Lady Hazel Lavery, was his favourite subject and an artist in her own right.

I have always been intrigued by these glamorous society women in the early 20th century. Ladies such as Lavery and Lady Diana Cooper with their pearls, thick, opulent shawls, painted lips and swaths of fabric wrapped about their foreheads as lux headbands are surely still to be considered fabulous even to the most modern, discerning eye.

Although the exhibition contains many political paintings (as well as photographs and archive material) -both Sir John and his wife were actively involved in both the War of Independence and the Civil War (and on a side note the lady was romantically linked to Michael Collins, but that's a whole other story..)-, portraits are what fascinate me particularly for their astute ability to capture the society and lifestyle, fashions and styles of the period from which they derive from.

Not all of these selected paintings and photographs are featured in the exhibition; I just want to admire the lavish magnificence of Lady Lavery, and in particular her husband’s renditions of her.
The Golden Turban, Sir John Lavery, 1929
Hazel in Rose and Gold, Sir John Lavery, 1918


gracie takes fashion so seriously it can turn ugly said...

oh how lovely . i was planning on going in there tomorrow i havnt been in years either ! x i live in cork too btw

Elle said...

Ah, If only people still dresses that way...

Sarah said...

Lady Lavery has loooong been a source of fascination for me - must pop down into the Crawford v soon - thanks for sharing!

Kat said...

@ Gracie, Elle and Sarah : added ye all to my links list :)

Glad to hear I'm not the only one fascinated by this lady

Mash said...

I wish my english was perfect for understand your post .... :(
thank you for your comment sweety :)

Kat said...

@Mash - you're more than welcome :)

Would be cool if I could write in French though!

daisymay aka Chantele said...

She was beautiful and the paintings are great!

Daisy Dayz Home

Forgetmenot said...

hey kat! I think the sir John Lavery's paintings are extraordinary! And of course you are free to post some images as long as you tag back :) (I understand that finding images from "the curious case of benjamin button" isn't easy). Thanks for your sweet comments!

Nicola said...

Planning on visiting exhibition in Hugh Lane, note to self leave aside a whole day. It's so hard to leave that place. I agree with you portraits are the best kind of art and she Lady Lavery is so beautiful, so chic so timeless.. Really enjoyed this post.

Kat said...

@ Nicola - Ah lucky out! I actually have never been there myself! Really must the next time I'm in Dublin..but I am never there to be honest. Thanks for your lovely comment as ever :)

@Forgetmenot - Thanks a million for your help and comments! x