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Je suis bizarre

Sarah LeFanu: Gwen John

6 September 2001
Gwen JohnA Life 
by Sue Roe.
Chatto, 364 pp., £25, June 2001, 0 7011 6695 9
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... The self-portrait by GwenJohn hanging in the National Portrait Gallery was painted in 1899 or 1900. She is dressed in the formal costume of the period: a tight-waisted blouse with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a big black bow at the ...

About to be at Tate Britain, or Meanwhile in Cork Street

Peter Campbell: Gwen​ and Augustus John

7 October 2004
... If they’re good, they are liable to be a cherished secret when alive and a discovery when dead. No painter is entirely of one kind or the other, and fate clearly has a hand in the matter. Augustus John, who was generally of the first sort, had ambitions beyond the marketable portraits which sustained him and his reputation in the latter part of his life. His early drawings persuaded some critics ...

Wood Nymph

Robert Melville

18 March 1982
Gwen​ John 
by Susan Chitty.
Hodder, 223 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 340 24480 1
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... it led to a handsome windfall, not exactly deserved, for the Jacques Maritain Study Centre. The surprises began when the owner of the château asked her if she had ever heard of an artist named GwenJohn. She had indeed, and, like many others, considered her work to be of a more consistently high quality than that of her famous brother. The man at the château had never heard of Augustus, but on ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John

28 June 2017
The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... wife, but without the staff a middle-class household would command or the security. Meanwhile the door to a respectable life had slammed shut behind her. Ida Nettleship sketched by Augustus John (c.1900) Such, more or less, is the story of Ida Nettleship, the first wife of Augustus John, who died of puerperal fever at the age of 30 in 1907 and was soon lost to view. In John’s unfinished ...

From the National Gallery to the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: The Divisionists and Vilhelm Hammershoi

17 July 2008
... that we are onlookers who may wait and watch but who are not told stories about what we see. A broad definition of Post-Impressionism includes other painters who treat the viewer in this way – GwenJohn, for example. Hammershøi, who looks back to Vermeer (he made his own version of a Vermeer letter-reader) and to Caspar David Friedrich’s woman at a window, painted in subdued greys, blacks ...

Pleasing himself

Peter Campbell

31 March 1988
Rodin: A Biography 
by Frederic Grunfeld.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 09 170690 4
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... figures which give such high production value to the façades and interiors of pre-World War One buildings. Then there are his relations with the mistress-models (Rose Beuret, Camille Claudel, GwenJohn, Claire de Choiseul and others) whose faces and bodies figure as prominently in his sculpture as their feelings for him did in their lives. And there are details of studio practice. The stages ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Eleanor Birne: ‘A Crisis of Brilliance’

12 September 2013
... androgynous bob. Her sophisticated friends Barbara Hiles and Dorothy Brett went bobbed too and the three became known as the ‘Slade cropheads’. They wore baggy smock dresses modelled on Augustus John’s gypsy drawings and found themselves written about – in both admiring and satirical terms – in the college magazine. For all her later fame in the close orbit of the Bloomsbury set, Carrington ...
22 November 1979
The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work 
by Germaine Greer.
Secker, 373 pp., £12.50, November 1979, 1 86064 677 8
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... and frequenter of galleries, with fairly wide taste, would consider that some half dozen are reproductions of attractive works of art. The count would rise to eight if his taste ran to the work of GwenJohn, or even to a dozen if he were indulgent. The remainder of the illustrations, some 94 per cent of the total, could serve equally well as the illustrations to a book called Dreary Painting ...
24 November 1994
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies 
by James McNeill Whistler.
Heinemann, 338 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 434 20166 9
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James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth 
by Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval.
Murray, 544 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 5027 0
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... when one thinks of all that Whistler managed to do, more or less single-handed, for modern art in Victorian Britain; and as for his direct influence, as one observes it in Sickert, Wilson Steer, GwenJohn and Victor Pasmore, it is hard not to think of it as beneficent and inspiring. People sometimes rebuke Whistler, as they rebuke Pound, for being noisy and obstreperous, but the polemics – the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011

5 January 2012
... he’s climbing a cliff in the desert. The helmet bounces away down onto the sand leaving him exposed to the burning sun, which sends him blind. One other scene stands out. The hero, Harry Faversham (John Clements), fears he is a coward and having declined to go with his regiment to the Sudan goes native in order to prove himself by working unrecognised to assist his ex-colleagues who have sent him ...

Sit like an Apple

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Artists’ Wives

23 October 2008
Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model-Wives of Cézanne, Monet and Rodin 
by Ruth Butler.
Yale, 354 pp., £18.99, July 2008, 978 0 300 12624 2
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... Steen frequently included his wife and family in his genre scenes; Gerard ter Borch drew on his half-sister, Gesina; Rembrandt had Saskia and Hendrickje; and at least one prominent Vermeer scholar, John Michael Montias, has speculated that several of the unknown women in Vermeer’s paintings are the artist’s wife or daughter. Perhaps the order of things was a bit more bourgeois in 17th-century ...

Pushing on

John​ Bayley

18 September 1986
The Old Devils 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 294 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 09 163790 2
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... He’s ... you know.’ ‘What, you mean ...’ ‘Well, we’re not supposed to mind them these days but I can’t help it. I came to them late, sort of.’ This exchange is between Rhiannon and Gwen, wife of Malcolm, who was once in love with Rhiannon though Peter was much more so, so much so that she had to have an abortion in consequence. The two are talking in Gwen’s kitchen, where ‘with ...
20 October 1994
Major Major: Memories of an Older Brother 
by Terry Major-Ball.
Duckworth, 167 pp., £12.95, August 1994, 0 7156 2631 0
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... When John Major ascended to 10 Downing Street, the wits were at first unsure quite how to set about him. There was the obvious, the elementary ‘grey’ approach: the Burton suits, the haircut, the delicious ...

Stuffing

Gabriele Annan

3 September 1987
The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle 
by Paul Delany.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £14.95, August 1987, 0 333 44572 4
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... notably Sir Geoffrey Keynes and Christopher Hassall’. Keynes published Brooke’s letters in 1968 and Hassall the authorised biography in 1964 – though Delany’s bibliography puts it in 1972. John Lehmann’s sympathetic debunking biography of 1980 gets into the bibliography but not into the text. Delany’s Neo-Pagan era begins in 1907 towards the end of Brooke’s first year at Cambridge ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey

6 June 2002
Spider-Man 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... The Fantastic Four), just the most archetypally non-archetypal, and the one with which the company as a whole was most identified. By the mid-1970s Spider-Man’s great plot-lines – The Death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s ethereal blonde girlfriend, who would haunt him as Kim Novak haunts James Stewart in Vertigo; The Unmasking of Green Goblins 1, 2, and 3 (a shock each time); The Marriage of ...

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