Gwen John (1876-1939)
Gwen John (1876-1939)
Gwen John (1876-1939)
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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ROBIN DALTON
GWEN JOHN (1876-1939)

Petit Profil

Details
GWEN JOHN (1876-1939)
John, G.
Petit Profil
stamped 'Gwen John' (lower right)
pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper
6 ½ x 6 in. (16.5 x 15.2 cm.)
Executed in the 1920s.
Provenance
Purchased by Mrs D. Barwell at the 1982 exhibition.
Linda Beattie.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 7 November 1991, lot 24.
Purchased by Robin Dalton at the 1998 exhibition, and by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Anthony d'Offay, Gwen John, July - August 1982, no. 62.
London, Browse & Darby, Gwen John Exhibition, May - June 1998, no. 37.
London, Olympia, Gwen John and Lucie Rie, February 2000, no. 89.

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Pippa Jacomb
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Lot Essay

The narrative of Robin Dalton’s life is immensely impressive, she inhabited lifestyles ranging from socialite to film producer, from literary agent to covert agent, and wrote three memoirs of her experiences along the way. Born in Sydney in 1920, Dalton was raised in the city’s ‘bohemian’ district of Kings Cross, and was the focal point of a bustling house of relatives who all doted on her as the only child of the family. Her father was a doctor who treated both Sydney’s underworld and upper classes from the family home, and her mother was of Polish-Australian descent, whose Jewish faith Dalton would rediscover in later life. Dalton was no stranger to controversy, and as a teenager would often become the subject of Sydney’s newspapers, notably during her divorce from her first husband at 18, who even hired a private investigator to track her social goings-on.

After falling in love with David Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s cousin and closest friend, Dalton moved to London, taking on work as a free-lance journalist while socialising with the artists, writers, and aristocrats of the city. It was in 1953 that she married the Irish doctor Emmet Dalton, with whom she had two children. On their honeymoon in Cornwall she was contacted by Prince Chula of Thailand to undertake anti-communist espionage for his government. Dalton assumed the disguise of a press worker for the British embassy and even learned Thai, but this period as a spy came to an end when Emmet died unexpectedly at the age of 33.

During a successful career as a literary agent, Dalton represented Joan Collins, Arthur Miller, Iris Murdoch and Tennessee Williams amongst a host of other prestigious writers. When, in the mid-1980s, she was unable to secure the sale of the film rights for one of her client’s books, Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens, Dalton bought them herself, and produced her first motion-picture, starring Shirley MacLaine and Twiggy. After a successful career as a film producer in the 1980s and 1990s, Dalton was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for her contributions to film and literature. She died in 2022 at the age of 101.

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