Cedric Morris (1889-1982)
GYPSY QUEEN CARAVANS IN A SUSSEX MEADOW
Signed, dedicated 'To Phyllis...' and dated 1927 l.r., oil on canvas
46 x 59cm, unframed
Phyllis Pitcairn Gage-Brown, painted and dedicated to her by the artist in 1927,
and by descent to her son, the present vendor
The present lot is an early work from 1927, and painted by Morris for his own pleasure. The dedication in the bottom right-hand corner of the painting 'to Phyllis from Cedric 1927' is to the vendor’s mother Phyllis Pitcairn Gage-Brown, who was a childhood friend of Paul Odo Cross, the son of an American heiress and a close friend of Cedric at that time. (See Morris’s portrait of Odo-Cross, 1925, National Museum of Wales).
Gage-Brown owned one of the caravans that appear in the picture and Odo Cross, who was known by the nickname 'Bud', the other. It had been the norm for the group to 'play' at camping together at Socknersh Manor, the East Sussex estate owned by Cross’s mother. Cross’s gypsy caravan later moved with him to Tidcombe Manor in Wiltshire where he lived with the horticulturalist Angus Wilson. The vendor remembers seeing it when he cycled there from Marlborough for tea in the late 1940s.
It was Wilson who first introduced Morris to the possibilities of iris breeding in 1934. Irises would become his great passion; while painting and teaching, he cultivated more than ninety new named varieties, many carrying the prefix 'Benton'. At the time the picture was painted, Morris was working from a studio at Great Ormond Street and had joined the Seven and Five Society of London painters and sculptors.
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Sold for £18,000
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Auction: Modern British and 20th Century Art - Live Online, Wed, 10th Jun 2020
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