Miss Daphne Lonides, London;
Christie's, London, 5 May 1950, lot 75;
Christie's, London, 10 May 2007, lot 114;
The Taylor Gallery, Belfast;
Fig 1 John Lavery, Printemps, 1904, 191 x 123, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
In 1901, Miss Auras was sixteen when she and Lavery were introduced in Unter den Linden by the wealthy young Westphalian painter, August Neven du Mont, for whom she had been posing. (3) She arrived at a time when he was at one of the high points in his career. Having left Glasgow and moved to London in 1896, he did not wish to build a British reputation, so much as to construct the springboard for an international career. Over the next two years, he and others planned the launch of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, and within a short time his works were being acquired for American, Belgian, German, Italian and French national and municipal galleries. Although the Royal Academy at first ignored him, he was awarded honorary membership of many European academies.
During two seasons working in Berlin Miss Auras joined Lavery's entourage. She went on to model for Lavery for about six years, travelling with him to France and to Tangier where she met her future husband, an eccentric British army officer, Nigel d'Albini Black Hawkins. (4) In addition to Printemps she appeared in many of Lavery's full-length portraits including Mary with Roses 1902 (Johannesburg Art Gallery) Mary in Green 1903 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), Summer 1903 (Musée Rodin, Paris) and Mary in a Green Coat, 1903 (Bradford Art Gallery). It is however in smaller works such as Mary in Black that we experience a more intimate encounter with Lavery's flame-haired model. The painter's consummate ability to engage the spectator without recourse to studio props, fashionable dresses and expensive millinery is evident in its simplicity and directness. Mary's pensive gaze locks the viewer into a moment of quiet contemplation and provides an eloquent riposte to those critics who wanted to characterize the painter as a mere follower of Whistler.
A contemporary label indicates that Mary in Black had been selected for the St Louis Purchase Exhibition in 1904, a show that became something of a cause célèbre. At a late stage, the Board of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, the body responsible for coordinating the Irish pictures under the colonial administration, faced with a high insurance bill, removed its financial support and the exhibition was cancelled. (5) Sir Horace Plunkett and Hugh Lane then persuaded AG Temple to accept the assembled pictures for the first modern exhibition of Irish Art at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. (6) Lavery who had shortened a show at Schulte's Gallery in Berlin to have work available for St Louis, appears, during the period of uncertainty, to have substituted larger works when it was transferred to London. (7) He must have realized the necessity of retaining work as plans for his solo exhibition of small 'cabinet' paintings in the Leicester Galleries emerged. (8) In the end there were at least three portraits of Mary in the Leicester Galleries exhibition. Although highly likely, it has not been possible to establish if the present picture was one of these.
Professor Kenneth McConkey, April 2019
1. Newman Flower ed., The Journals of Arnold Bennett, 1932, (Cassell and Co), pp. 167, 170 (entries for 19 April and 6 May 1904). 'K' was either Gerald Kelly or Joseph Milner Kite.
2. Kenneth McConkey, John Lavery, a Painter and his World, 2010, (Atelier Books), p. 86, 225-6 (note 45).
3. Like Lavery, Neven du Mont was commuting between London and the German capital; see John Lavery, The Life of a Painter, 1940 (Cassell and Co), p. 76; McConkey 2010, pp. 85-8. August Neven du Mont (1866-1909) came to know Lavery around 1898 when he showed at the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. In the following year he rented 7 Cromwell Place, next door to Lavery. His portrait of Mary Auras was sold at Lempertz in Cologne in 2013.
4. McConkey, 2010, pp. 89, 101.
5. Recent forest fires across the United States had sent insurance costs soaring.
6. For fuller accounts of this series of events see Lady Gregory, Hugh Lane's Life and Achievement, 1921 (John Murray), pp. 46-50; see also Robert O'Byrne, Hugh Lane 1875-1915, 2000, (The Lilliput Press, Dublin), pp. 48-52; Morna O'Neill, Hugh Lane, The Art Market and the Art Museum, 1893-1915, 2018 (Yale 7. He also intimated that he would not send to St Louis even though he had the option to appear amongst former Glasgow School painters. Mary in Black does not appear in the catalogue of the Guildhall Art Gallery exhibition. Lavery showed twenty-five works in Schulte's Gallery in Berlin, 15 of which are listed by Walter Shaw Sparrow, John Lavery and His Work, n.d. , (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co), p.184. It is not unlikely, given the transfer of pictures to the St Louis project, and in view of Bennett's comments (see note 1) that the present version of Mary in Black was also included in the German exhibition.
8. This was Leicester Galleries, Cabinet Pictures by John Lavery, November 1904, see nos. 11, 32, & 42.
- Auction Details
Printed catalogue available free at our galleries or €10 by post.
AUCTION: Monday 27 May 2019, starting at 6pm
VIEWING: Saturday to Monday 25-27 May, 10am to 6pm daily
VENUE: Royal Dublin Society Exhibition Centre (RDS) Hall 6, Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge. Free parking for Whyte's clients
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(g) Any lot listed as a "collection, range, portfolio etc." or stated to comprise or contain a collection or range of items which are not described shall be put up for sale not subject to rejection and shall be taken by the purchaser with all (if any) faults, lack of genuineness and errors of description and numbers of items in the lot, and the purchaser shall have no right to reject the lot; except that, notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this sub-clause, where before a sale a person intending to bid at the sale gives notice in writing to, and satisfies the auctioneer that any such lot contains any item or items undescribed in the sale catalogue and that person specifically describes that item or those items in that notice, then that item or those items shall, as between the auctioneer and that person, to be taken to form part of the description of the lot. Clause 6 The respective rights and obligations of the parties shall be governed and interpreted by Irish law, and the buyer hereby submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Irish Courts.
a) The buyer shall pay the Auctioneer a commission at the rate of 20% of the purchase price (which excludes VAT at the prevailing rate under The Margin Scheme and which is not reclaimable). There is no extra charge to on-line buyers on Whyte’s platform – bid.whytes.ie. However bidders on other platforms shall pay an extra commission of 3% to 5% (plus VAT) to cover the charge made by the on-line bidding provider.
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(c) The buyer authorises the Auctioneer to use any photographs or illustrations of any lot purchased for any or all purposes as the Auctioneer may require. The placing of a bid will be taken as full agreement to all the above conditions.
WHYTE AND SONS AUCTIONEERS LIMITED, 2018.
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