Miss Rosemary Hope-Vere and Bacchus
Oil on canvas: 30(h) x 25(w) in /
76.2(h) x 63.5(w) cm
Signed lower left: J Lavery; signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Miss Rosemary Hope-Vere / By John Lavery / 1929
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SIR JOHN LAVERY RA RSA PRP NP IS
Belfast 1856 – 1941 Kilmaganny, County Kilkenny
Miss Rosemary Hope-Vere and Bacchus (1907-1990)
Signed; signed, inscribed and dated 1929 on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 30 x 25 in / 76.2 x 63.5 cm
Frame size: 37 x 32 in / 94 x 81 cm
In an English 18th Century carved and gilded frame
Miss Katherine FitzGerald by 1946, then by descent
Private collection, 1986
Richard Green, London, 2008
Private collection, UK
Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 1930, no. 394
London, Richard Green, British Impressionism, November 2008, no. 16, pp. 48-51, illustrated in
Kenneth McConkey, John Lavery, A Painter and his World, 2010 (Atelier Books), p.179, 241 (note 145)
Throughout the 1920s Lavery was looking for new bearings in portraiture. The Edwardian grand manner was no longer suitable for young men and women of the Jazz Age. As their simpler clothing and shorter hair styles indicate, the ‘bright young things’ wanted to free themselves from the conventions of their parents’ generation. This was abundantly clear to James Laver when in 1925, the year of John Singer Sargent’s death, he thought of the great cavalcade of portraits of the bygone age. Sargent’s people were ‘creatures from another world, characters from a fantastic comedy written in a language we have somehow forgotten’. The Great War had profoundly separated the present from the recent past.
By that point, Lavery’s work had already altered significantly. Full-lengths painted to the Whistlerian formula had all but disappeared, and half-lengths were now in vogue. Young women who once ‘stood’, now sat, and faces, pale and powdered in the past, were rouged, creamed and lipsticked. Enfranchised self-confidence had replaced the belle allure of the grande dame. Women were entering parliament, taking to the air like Emilia Erhardt and leading in the fashionable sports of tennis and golf.
There is no better demonstration of these rapid social changes than Lavery’s portrait of Rosemary Hope-Vere and Bacchus. Nine years earlier in The Honeymoon, (sold Christies 12 May 2006) Lavery alluded to the new post-war hedonism of the upper classes. Although in his late sixties, he intuitively understood modern tensions, as his characterisation of Rosemary Hope-Vere reveals. Born in 1907, the daughter of Lt.-Col. James Charles Hope-Vere, of Kirkmuir Hill, near Lanark, she is likely to have first met the painter on his forays in the Scottish Borders. Two portraits of the same size were executed in 1929 on the eve of her ill-fated marriage to Major John Drury Boteler Drury-Lowe – one destined for the Royal Academy (fig 1, Private Collection), showing Rosemary with bare arms, and the present canvas, shown in the Royal Scottish Academy.
Fig 1 Miss Rosemary Hope-Vere, 1929, Private Collection
Many of Lavery’s earliest portraits featured women and pet dogs. Eva Fulton for instance, the daughter of one of Lavery’s early patrons was shown with her pet retriever in 1886, while several of the tennis pictures of 1885 featured Cairn terriers and earlier paintings at Grez-sur-Loing, contained salukis. At the turn of the century, gundogs and bulldogs were favoured, as is clear from A Girl in Violet and Gold, c. 1905 (fig 2, Manchester City Art Gallery). By the twenties, dogs were fashion accessories and smaller breeds like wire-haired fox terriers and Pekinese became popular. In this instance ‘Bacchus’ resting on his owner’s lap, acts as a foil to the nervous energy of the young woman’s pose. We assume that she enjoyed sports since Lavery inscribed one of his earlier golf pictures – The First Green, North Berwick, 1921 (fig 3) – to her on the occasion of her marriage to Drury-Lowe.
Fig 2 A Girl in Violet and Gold, c. 1905, Manchester City Art Gallery
Fig 3 The First Tee, North Berwick, 1921 Richard Green Galleries, London
Rosemary Hope-Vere wears a shot silk lilac dress and a double row of pearls. While her plain dress with its long sleeves and cross-over bodice is understated enough to merit little comment (except to say that such a style was to become a perennial favourite from then onwards), her
vividly made-up face is completely of the moment, suggesting that of a modish French doll. Her face, enhanced by a creamy foundation (‘without smooth skin no girl can be really fascinating’), rouge, bright red lips parted to reveal her white teeth, and pencilled eyebrows, show the prevailing influence of Hollywood movie stars. Glossy red nail varnish (matching the lips), became fashionable after the First World War; the most popular brand was Cutex, first to introduce in 1917 a liquid varnish (derived from motor car paints) and which, from 1929, could even be perfumed. By this time cosmetics had became a huge success story, available in department stores (along with hair-dressing salons), and promoted in women’s fashion magazines. Beauty salons (first appearing in the later nineteenth century) flourished at all levels of society in the inter-war years. Isaac Soyer’s Art Beauty Shoppe, 1934 (fig. 2) depicts a humble New York salon in which a woman on the left (a movie magazine on her lap) has her skin examined, while on the right another undergoes a permanent wave, and, directly engaging our
attention, a client enjoys a manicure.
Fig. 2 Isaac Soyer, Art Beauty Shoppe, 1934. Dallas Museum of Art.
SIR JOHN LAVERY RA RSA PRP NP IS
Belfast 1856 – 1941 Kilmaganny, County Kilkenny
It has been claimed that Sir John Lavery belonged to the Glasgow School, the Ulster School, the Irish School and the British School, indicating the versatility and wide ranging appeal of his artistic accomplishments. His works are greatly admired for his development of the aesthetic value of the sketch, in which each touch of the brush is left undisguised to create a vibrant and atmospheric affect.
Born in Belfast, he was orphaned in infancy and brought up by an uncle near Moira, and later, another relative in Ayrshire. As a teenager, Lavery was apprenticed to a Glasgow photographer, and during the late 1870s, attended classes at the Haldane Academy in Glasgow. He then trained at Heatherleys in London and in 1881, settled in Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian and Atelier Colarossi; during this period he was influenced by Jules Bastien-Lepage and painted in a plein-air and naturalist style.
Lavery returned to Glasgow in 1885 and became one of the leading members of the Glasgow School. He moved to London in 1896 and helped Whistler to found the International Society in 1898, of which he was a Vice-President until 1908. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1911 and became a full Academician in 1921. He was appointed Official War Artist to the Royal Navy in 1917, and was knighted the following year. Lavery travelled extensively during his career, visiting Morocco, Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland, and these visits inspired many of his works.
Following the death of his wife, Hazel, in 1935, Lavery set off for Hollywood with the idea of painting the ‘stars’. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to Ireland and died at Kilmaganny in 1941.
 James Laver, Portraits in Oil and Vinegar, 1925 (John Castle), p. 6.
 Lt. Col. Hope-Vere was Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lanackshire.
 At the time of Rosemary Hope-Vere’s marriage she was already having an affair with Lieutenant Quintin Holland Gilbey of the Grenadier Guards, and when she became pregnant with Gilbey’s child, decided to elope with him to Paris. Drury-Lowe, a Scots Guards officer, was furious and vowed to have Gilbey horsewhipped. However the couple escaped his clutches and she and Gilbey were married in February 1933. This marriage also ended in divorce in 1942, and she remarried in 1943 to Sir Roderick Napoleon Brinckman. These events were recounted in Gerard Burke, ‘Painting’s brush with 30s scandal’, The Scotsman, 24 October, 2000, p. 5. I am grateful to Dick Barton for bringing this material to my attention.
 The Hope-Veres had a holiday home at North Berwick.
 According to thirty-nine leading Hollywood directors, claimed the editor of the Philadelphia Ladies’ Home Journal in July 1929.
 See Aileen Ribeiro, Facing Beauty. Painted Women and Cosmetic Art, New Haven and London, 2011, pp.317–8.