• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7595

    20th Century British Art

    6 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 14

    Dora Carrington (1893-1932)

    Bon Voyage

    Price Realised  

    Dora Carrington (1893-1932)
    Bon Voyage
    oil, ink, silver foil and mixed media on glass
    6¼ x 8¼ in. (16 x 21 cm.)
    Painted circa 1929.


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    In the autumn of 1928 Carrington met Bernard Penrose, brother of Roland. He was ten years Carrington's junior and became her last lover. Jane Hill writes, 'Beakus, as he was nicknamed, was one of the four Penrose brothers and had broken completely with type and background by going to sea ... With Beakus Carrington could satisfy her 'Shelley craving to sail, & leave these quiet rural scenes for Greek islands'. He had a blue brig tattoed on his forearm; had 'sailed halfway around the world before the mast through storm, salt-lashing seas and scirocco'; had witnessed the staggering beauty of St Elmo's fire and the pampero; considered himself a horny-handed sailor and proud of it.'

    'Beakus was also rather remote, a characteristic which allowed Carrington to experience with him some of the most unadulterated pleasure she had ever known, on his Brixham trawler which he had moored at Falmouth. The Sans Pareil was 'an infinitely romantic ship, with brown varnished cupboards and cut glass handles and a little fire place with a brass mantelpiece'; the interior she describes makes it sound like a beautifully crafted gypsy caravan.'

    'Carrington made four touchingly evocative illuminations for Beakus [lots 14-17], inspired by his tales of adventures at sea. One of these was of the barque Harmony [lot 15], the Moravian Mission's 'rum and bible' ship, running gallantly through a deadly obstacle course of icebergs and needle rocks overhung by the sheer black cliffs of the Labrador coast.'

    'Two other pictures [lots 14 and 16] feature sailing ships on halcyon seas in tropical paradises with palm trees and, in one, a siren proclaming 'Bon Voyage'. The third [lot 17], no doubt, is a stretch of the coastline Carrington and Beakus knew and has the Sans Pareil sailing on a sea, crested with foam, within sight of unmistakably English chalk cliffs' (loc. cit.).

    The portrait by Roland Penrose of his brother (fig. 1), was probably painted prior to October 1927 when Bernard sailed in the four masted barque Garthpool, a ship of 2,842 tons, which was one of the last fully rigged commercial sailing ships to sail round the Horn.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    A gift from the artist to Bernard Penrose and by descent.


    Literature

    J. Hill, The Art of Dora Carrington, London, 1994, pp. 124-5, illustrated.