Stella Bowen (1893-1947) Portrait of a Young Boy, c.1937

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Lot 2
Stella Bowen
(1893-1947)
Portrait of a Young Boy, c.1937

Sold for AU$ 104,550 (US$ 75,505) inc. premium

Important Australian Art

17 Nov 2021, 18:00 EST

Sydney

Stella Bowen (1893-1947)
Portrait of a Young Boy, c.1937
oil on panel
35.5 x 30.5cm (14 x 12in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Collection of Lady Chorley, London
    Thence by descent
    Private collection, London

    By the mid 1930s, Stella Bowen had established a strong clientele in London and on the continent for her work as a portraitist. Amongst those who commissioned and sat for her were Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, Naomi Mitchison, Gertrude Stein, and of course, friends and patrons Lord and Lady Chorley. In 1936, the Chorley's commissioned Bowen to paint a 'conversation piece' of the family; a type of informal group portrait which usually featured the subjects casually gathered in their homes or gardens. Painted the same year, Provencal Garden, recently exhibited in the Australian War Memorial's retrospective Stella Bowen: Art, Love and War, shows one such group convivially seated amongst an arbor in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

    This portrait of one of the three Chorley children was painted c.1937, following the completion of the larger conversation piece, which depicted Lord and Lady Chorley with their children in the family home. Photographs, which remain in the family's collection, show the three children in different settings in the garden and were clearly used by Bowen for painting their individual portraits. The majority of Bowen's portraits and conversation pieces have not been located.
    Lady Chorley, the writer Katherine Chorley, was a close friend and benefactor of Stella Bowen. It is likely she and her husband, then Sir Ernest Cassel, Professor of Commercial and Industrial Law at the London School of Economics, were instrumental in the School commissioning Bowen in 1936 to paint portraits of its leading members, Sir Arthur Bowley and Arthur Sargent in honour of their retirement. The Bowley portrait remains on display at the School. Archived correspondence from the period indicate that Katherine Chorley passed on various communications to the artist and that, in 1937, Professor Chorley had to intercede to request swift payment for the commissions, as Bowen was anxious about paying her daughter's school fees.

    The painting Jardin Exotique, the following lot in this auction, was a gift from Bowen to Katherine following a trip they made together to Provence in 1938. The trip was also commemorated by Bowen's gift to Katherine Chorley of a copy of the book Provence by Bowen's former husband, the writer Ford Madox Ford, which she inscribed to her.

    Merryn Schriever
Contacts
Stella Bowen (1893-1947) Portrait of a Young Boy, c.1937
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