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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE PROFESSOR J.R. LANDER
(photo 1 caption) Jack Lander in Ghana, circa 1950
Jack Robert Lander (1921-2003) was an eminent medieval historian and author of The Wars of the Roses, 1965; Conflict and Stability in Fifteenth Century England, 1969; Crown and Nobility 1450-1509, 1976; Crown and Community: England 1450-1509, 1980; The Limitations of English Monarchy in the later Middle Ages, 1989; and English Justices of the Peace, 1989, as well as articles on fifteenth and early sixteenth century England in various learned journals and publications. He lived in London, and inherited the following works of art through his friendship with Paul Hyslop, as a result of his friendship with the writer and critic, Raymond Mortimer (1895-1980).
'Raymond Mortimer's London flat was decorated in 1925 by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant; Channel Packet, his book of essays published in 1942, had a dustjacket designed by Graham Sutherland; his bedroom in the country had drawings by Sickert on the wall; and his last London house, tucked away in Canonbury Place, Islington, contained treasure after treasure, a mass of pictures purchased over a period of half a century or more. Although Raymond Mortimer was best known as a literary critic and a chief reviewer on the Sunday Times - his sober, judicious pieces often adjacent to the poignant fireworks of Cyril Connolly's reviews - he was a great gallery-goer in London and a frequent purchaser at Agnew's, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, the Leicester Galleries, the Adams Gallery, Reid & Lefevre and other haunts familiar to supporters of contemporary British and French art. At the same time, as an apologist for modern art between the wars, he contributed to all the highbrow magazines and weeklies, from Vogue to the New Statesman, writing on Maillol and Matisse, Brancusi, Léger and many of the best-known British artists of his day.
He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, worked briefly in the Foreign Office, published a novel and, in the early 1920s, came into the orbit of Bloomsbury through a meeting with Clive Bell who was to remain his mentor and one of his closest friends. Frances Partridge, another great friend, came to know him at this time and describes him as 'darting after pleasure and intellectual stimulation like a dragon-fly'. In a way, this was the problem. He was high-spirited, loved the latest fashion (in ties and American sweaters as much as in books and pictures) but never seemed to follow anything through. There was, indeed, an almost austere, donnish side to Raymond (one did not argue with him on a point of Victorian theology, the Greek War of Independance, late Henry James or English grammar) that might have led to a memorable book. It never did. But his search for stimulation remained constant all his life even when, in old age, certain rigidities of thought and an impatience with declining standards reduced the playing fields of pleasure to a short flowerbed of what he already knew and trusted. 'Who are the young writers?' he would ask but never wait for a reply in case it might upset his, by then, well-worn train of sympathies.
Raymond, as confidant, friend and perceptive critic (of Gide and Huxley, among others) deserves his footnote in the cultural history of the earlier twentieth century. But he should also be remembered as a patron, collector and a devoted committee member of the Contemporary Art Society. Although he earned a living as a journalist and literary editor, he must have had a little family money of his own. He was able to establish himself in some style in his flat in Gordon Place (now Endsleigh Place) and buy pictures for his rooms. He owned many works by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (and, incidentally, wrote the Penguin Modern Painters volume on Grant); he bought Sickerts (his most spectacular purchase being the late photo-based painting of Amelia Earhart arriving in the rain at the end of her solo transatlantic flight, a picture now in the Tate); he dipped backwards - Spencer Gore from Camden Town, a collage of Queen Victoria by Roger Fry - and from the 1930s accelerated forwards into the worlds of Sutherland, Piper, Hitchens, Alan Reynolds, John Wells and William Scott. He had a Matisse drawing dedicated to him and pastels by Matisse's old friend Simon Bussy. He had furnishings and ceramics by Carrington, Sutherland, John Banting, Douglas Davidson as well as much by Grant and Bell. After Raymond's death, the bulk of his collection was inherited by his long-time friend, the architect Paul (Geddes) Hyslop (hence his portrait in this sale by Rodrigo Moynihan); in his turn he left the pictures to the academic and historian Jack Lander.
Raymond's tastes were essentially Francophile and, although he was widely travelled and was conversant in the history and literatures of many countries, he seems not to have collected works beyond the English and French artists of his own lifetime (a huge painting by Jan Weenix was an exception). In this he was in step with many of his collector-contemporaries - Maynard Keynes, Hugh Walpole, Montague Shearman, St John and Mary Hutchinson and the painter Edward Le Bas. There is an evocative sketch by the last-named (lot 54) of Raymond working in his country cottage The Bothy, Henley-on-Thames, where the river lapped the edge of the lawn and Raymond's punt was a source of pleasure to his guests. My own memories are of Canonbury Place, the early Sickerts glowing in the ingeniously lit sea-green dining room; works by Matisse, Pruna, Banting and Gore on the stairs; and the large first-floor drawing room where the William Scott (lot 63) hung with Sutherland, Le Bas, the Vanessa Bell of Charleston garden (lot 68) and a big dancing male nude by Grant that picked up the rhythms of the fantastic Aubusson carpet. There in the middle was Raymond offering a drink and a cigarette with pre-war courtesy. 'Now, my dear,' in his gravel-drive voice, 'who are the young painters?'
Richard Shone, September 2003.
We are very grateful to Richard Shone for this introduction and for his help in preparing the catalogue entries for the Lander Collection.
(photo 2 caption: Decorations by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell in Raymond Mortimer's flat at 6 Gordon Place, London, circa 1926).