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THE COLLECTION OF ELIZABETH TAYLOR
Augustus John is one of the most celebrated British artists of the early twentieth century. He was associated with the New English Art Club and the Camden Town Group but remained largely independent from artistic trends and movements. By the 1920s he was the leading portraitist of his day whose sitters included many of his most distinguished contemporaries such as George Bernard Shaw and T.E. Lawrence. Alongside these achievements his lifestyle epitomised that of the bohemian artist, a reputation bolstered by his fascination with Romany culture.
The Taylor family home in Hampstead, where Elizabeth was born in 1932, had previously been owned by Augustus John, whose paintings remained on the walls when the Taylors moved in. Elizabeth's father Frank Taylor was an art dealer with a gallery located at 35 Old Bond Street in London. He established a close relationship with the Welsh artist. After relocating with his family to sunny California during the war, Frank opened an art gallery at the Château Elysée, but quickly relocated it to the more impressive Beverly Hills Hotel. It was at that location that such celebrities as Howard Duff, Vincent Price, James Mason, Alan Ladd, Hedda Hopper and Greta Garbo could be found selecting art for their own collections. Frank Taylor acted as John's American agent for many years and was responsible for the artist's popularity in the United States. The two men corresponded frequently. In a letter of 25 June 1943 Frank Taylor wrote to Augustus John: 'We have settled down to living in California and our young daughter is by way of being a movie star, if you see a picture Lassie Come Home which will be released in September, she is in that with Roddy Macdowal, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty and a lot of people, she did a bit in Jane Eyre and will be in The White Cliffs of Dover, also she may get the leading part in National Velvet, even if you are not a movie fan see the Lassie picture it is in colour and is beautiful'. Miss Taylor inherited this collection of works from her father, and they remained in her homes throughout her life.
We are grateful to Rebecca John for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entries for these works.