A photograph in the de Laszlo Archive shows that this portrait was originally left without hands. These were added by a previous owner sometime after 1991.
De László was extremely proud when his son Paul was called to the bar in 1929 and painted a number of portraits of him in his wig and gown. This portrait is recorded in the artist's diary 11 April 1931, "During the morning Pauli came started a small pic. of him in wig & gown reading in the small dressing room of the studio - nearly profil[e]. The full light on his fine nose." The sitter joined solicitors Gregory Rowcliffe & Co. in London, who would later act as executors of Philip de László's estate after his death in 1937.
Paul Leonardo de Laszlo was born in Vienna on 6 January 1906, the third son of Philip de László (1869-1937) and his wife, Lucy, née Guinness (1870-1950). The family moved to England in 1907 and lived at No.3 Palace Gate in Kensington, London during most of the sitter's childhood. Paul was educated at Twyford School, near Winchester, then at Rugby, and Balliol College, Oxford. After graduation he taught history at Eton for a term before declining a permanent position to travel to New York in 1927 to take up a position at the bank of Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc.
In June 1933 he married Josephine Vavasour McConnell (1906-1982) at St. George's, Hanover Square and they had three children, Christopher (born 1936), Ann (born 1938), and Jane (born 1942). At the outbreak of the Second World War, Paul moved his family from their house at 20 Tite Street, Chelsea, London to the safer location of Southcote Lodge, Camberly. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and worked at Bletchley Park, the renowned code-breaking centre. Later service with a special section of the Admiralty saw him posted to North Africa where he inspected Naval Radio Stations and was later appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire.
After the war the sitter joined English Electric as a personal assistant and legal advisor to the chairman, Sir George Nelson. Retirement as a director of the company came in 1969, allowing him more time to explore his varied interests in Photography, Cinema, woodwork, and natural history.
Paul died in December 1983, twenty-two months after his wife Josephine.
We are grateful to Katherine Field for writing the catalogue entry for this portrait, which will be included in the Philip de László catalogue raisonné, currently presnet in progress online: www.delaszlocatalogueraisonne.com.
The Hon. Mrs de Laszlo and a team of editors are compiling the catalogue raisooné of the artist's entire oeuvre. Katherine Field is the British and Canadian Editor. Please see www.delaszloarchivetrust.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to offer any contribution.