Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890-1978)
Brockhurst married Anais, the daughter of a French timber merchant, in 1911 and between 1915 and 1919 they lived in Ireland where they were introduced to the painter Augustus John (1878-1961) and his circle...
This sensitive portrait was painted by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst, one of the most fashionable portrait painters of the early 20th century, and the subject is his wife, Anais.
Brockhurst married Anais, the daughter of a French timber merchant, in 1911 and between 1915 and 1919 they lived in Ireland where they were introduced to the painter Augustus John (1878-1961) and his circle. The introduction was facilitated by Oliver St John Gogarty (1878-1957), an Irish poet, author and politician, who became a patron and close friend.
During the interwar period, Brockhurst focussed his attention on print-making and mastered the technique of etching. He developed a distinctive style and focussed on portraiture, often using his earlier oil paintings as inspiration. Anais often modelled for these etchings and was the subject of some of his accomplished works in this medium including: The Mirror (1920), The Window (1922) and The Black Silk Dress (1927).
In 1927, however, Brockhurst met Kathleen Woodward (1912-1995), a young art student with whom he began an affair. Kathleen was 16 when they first met and their relationship caused a scandal. Kathleen (later renamed Dorette) soon replaced Anais as Brockhurst’s muse although he remained married to Anais until 1940 when they divorced.
By 1930 Brockhurst had largely returned to painting portraits and notable commissions from this period include the notorious British socialite Margaret Campbell (1912-1993) Duchess of Argyll [Tate Britain] and Wallis Simpson (1896-1986) Duchess of Windsor [National Portrait Gallery]. In 1939 Brockhurst moved to America with Dorette, living first in New York and then in New Jersey, and remained there for the rest of his life.
The present work was acquired from Brockhurst by the American retail magnate Alan Fortunoff (1933-2000), who befriended Brockhurst towards the end of his life and assembled an impressive collection of his best works.