Miscellanea: A comment by Annie / Annie and Laurencin / Sassoon meets Annie at Hill House

A comment by Annie from the Victoria Daily Times, 19 Dec 1922:

At a meeting of the Royal Academy recently Mrs. Anne Swynnerton was elected an associate … in an interview [she] said: “Professionally this recognition of women artists should be a great help. It marks such a very long stage from my young days, when women were not admitted to the Academy schools, and it was difficult for them to get their best work exhibited.” … Her work is shown … in the New York Museum, the director paying 1,000 guineas for “A Dream of Italy.”


Have at last found a link, just, between Annie and a French artist I take an interest in, Marie Laurencin. Both exhibited at the Pittsburgh Exhibition, May 1924, Annie with her Portrait of Henry James – which is described as “deeply depressing and sentimental” – and Marie with Barley Sugar (Sucre d’Orge). The latter was first acquired by The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, in 1923. It later became part of the collection of Paul Rosenberg in France, but was lost when his mansion was raided by German troops in 1940. (The image is from photographic records he made.) It is listed in the German government ‘Lost Art-Datenbank.’


Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was very much part of Britain’s elite literary and artistic circles throughout his life, although he is remembered today chiefly as a war poet. In this extract from his personal diary he describes meeting Annie at Hill House, Epping Forest, a cultural hub of the 1890s and 1900s, and the place where Annie painted her Portrait of Henry James in 1910:

11 April [1925] … There were a dozen of us at dinner, at two tables, in an exquisite room – gilt and painted Venetian walls and ceiling superimposed on the original Elizabethan structure. The party included Cyril Scott (the composer) and his wife, and Mrs Annie Swynnerton (the aged A.R.A.). After a dinner of salmon and asparagus and turkey and souffle and champagne and port and brandy and a fine cigar (and conversation which made me feel an intellectual colossus) we adjourned to the noble galleried hall and listened to the piano-playing of Cyril Scott … [on the 12th of April] I became quite friendly with poor purblind Mrs Swynnerton, mainly by telling her that Hamo Thornycroft [a famous sculpture] is my uncle. She spoke bitterly against Sickert’s work, but I pleased her by saying that my mother has often spoke admiringly about ‘The Sense of Sight‘ (Mrs Swynnerton’s best known picture) … she really is almost blind.

Rupert Hart-Davis, ed. (1985) Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1923-1925. London: Faber and Faber.

* purblind = partially blind.

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