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Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)

Kathleen, Countess of Drogheda

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Kathleen, Countess of Drogheda
signed with the initials 'OK' (lower left)
oil on canvas
40 3/8 x 30 1/8 in. (102.5 x 76.5 cm.)
Painted in 1944-1947
Chatin Sarachi, London, by 1958.
With Buchholz Gallery [Curt Valentin], New York (no. 11459).
Collection Madry, Montreux, by 1971.
Acquired by the late Ernst Beyeler, Basel.
E. Hoffmann, Kokoschka, Life and Work, London, 1947, no. 307, p. 337 (illustrated pl. LXXXII in an earlier state in 1946).
H.M. Wingler, Oskar Kokoschka, The Work of the Painter, Salzburg, 1958, no. 336, p. 330 (illustrated and again p. 109).
B. Bultmann, Oskar Kokoschka, London, 1961 (illustrated pl. 44).
J.P. Hodin, Oskar Kokoschka, The Artist and His Time, New York, 1966, no. 49 (illustrated).
F. Whitford, Oskar Kokoschka, A Life, London, 1986, p. 182.
R. Calvocoressi, Kokoschka, Recklinghausen, 1992, no. 85 (illustrated).
Basel, Kunsthalle, Oskar Kokoschka, March - April 1947, no. 76 (illustrated).
Zurich, Kunsthalle, Oskar Kokoschka, July - August 1947, no. 65.
Venice, XXIV Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, 1948, no. 361.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Oskar Kokoschka: A Retrospective Exhibition, October - November 1948, no. 58 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Washington D.C., Phillips Memorial Gallery, December 1948 - January 1949; Saint Louis, City Art Museum, Ferbruary - March 1949; San Francisco, De Young Memorial Museum, April - May 1949; Wilmington, Delaware Art Center, June - July 1949; and New York, Museum of Modern Art, July - October 1949.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Oskar Kokoschka, March - May 1958, no. 119, p. 81 (illustrated).
Braunschweig, Haus Salve Hospes, Der späte Kokoschka, January - February 1960, no. 15.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Oskar Kokoschka in England and Scotland, November - December 1960, no. 21.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Oskar Kokoschka: Bildnisse von 1907-1970, July - September 1971, no. 37 (illustrated).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Oskar Kokoschka - Memorial Exhibition, May - June 1981, no. 44, p. 67 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to London, Marlborough Fine Art, June - July 1981.
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Hommage à Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, April - June 1984, no. 24.
London, Tate Gallery, Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, June - August 1986, no. 98 (illustrated).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, September - November 1986, no. 100 (illustrated).
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, December 1986 - February 1987, no. 76 (illustrated).
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, L'eternel féminin, November 1989 - January 1990, no. 30 (illustrated).
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, Oskar Kokoschka, Emigrantenleben, Prag und London 1934-1953, November 1994 - February 1995, no. 95, p. 209 (illustrated).
Sapporo, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Exhibition from Swiss Private Collections, coordinated by Ernst Beyeler, Basel, May - June 1996, no. 40, p. 96 (illustrated p. 97); this exhibition later travelled to Nagasaki, Huis ten Bosch Museum of Art, June - August 1996; Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, August - September 1996; and Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, October - November 1996.
Sintra, Portugal, Museu de Arte Moderna/Coleccao Berardo, Forgotten Generation, Erich Kahn, Jew, Survivor, German Expressionist, May - November 2005.
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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Painted in London during the Second World War, Kathleen Countess of Drogheda is one of Kokoschka's finest later portraits. Executed in a loose highly Expressionistic style using radiant and often garish colour, the portrait betrays the same masterly intuitive touch that distinguishes the artist's earliest psychological portraits made in Vienna nearly forty years before.

Kokoschka's sitter for this portrait was the Countess of Drogheda, born Kathleen Moore Pelham Burn who had married the Earl of Drogheda in 1909 and divorced him in 1922 to marry Guillemo Delanda a polo player. A sportswoman herself, who had played tennis at Wimbledon, learnt to fly and worked helping refugees during the 'First War', she was by all accounts an indomitable woman of fortitude. Kokoschka, who by the time he began to paint her in 1944 was able to choose his sitters painting in the main only people he liked and had become friends with, took several years to complete this painting which remained in a state of incompletion throughout the war. A photograph of its earlier state was recorded by Edith Hoffmann in her 1946 book on the artist.

As Frank Whitford has also pointed out in his biography of Kokoschka, the painting almost did not survive the war. While Kokoschka was working on the portrait in his Park Lane studio a doodle-bug 'exploded in Hyde Park on the other side of the road. Kokoshka and (the Countess) were lucky to escape with their lives ...all the windows in the house were shattered by the blast except for those in the studio. In view of this dramatic event (which entirely failed to disturb the composure of the Countess) it is surprising that the completed painting was at all successful. In fact it is one of the best of Kokoschka's later portraits.' (Frank Whitford, Oskar Kokoschka, A Life London, 1986, p. 182)

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