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Post Lot Text
'HARLEQUIN-SPHINX', ACRYLIC ON BOARD BY MARTIN BATTERSBY, CIRCA 1960
Martin Battersby, collector, historian, designer, decorator and artist, played a crucial role through the 1960s and 1970s in promoting the reappraisal of Art Nouveau and the decorative art of the '20s and '30s. His seminal and influential books 'Art Nouveau' (1967), 'The Decorative Twenties' (1969), and 'The Decorative Thirties' (1971), provided rich and sympathetic connoisseurship on these periods at a time when there was little other available documentation.
Battersby was a gifted trompe-l'oeil artist whose witty and sophisticated choice of subject matter derived from a wide visual culture. The present work evoques the figures of the Commedia dell'Arte and the background relates to paintings from the 1930s by Eugène Berman. Batterby's particular fondness for the sphinx motif grew from his enjoyment of 'eighteenth century porcelain figures of this strange creature, many of which depict Marie Antoinette and Madame du Barry'. In 1959 he painted murals on this theme for the Sphinx Room of the Carlyle Hotel, New York and two years later showed paintings of sphinx subjects at the Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London.
The framer's label on the present work is that of Bredon's in Prince Albert Street, Brighton, the street in which Battersby later opened his own 'Sphinx Studio' as a retail outlet for his silkscreen furnishing fabrics and papers