Following his highly successful exhibition of 'Portrait Interiors' at the Leicester Galleries, London in 1925, Lavery was promoted in the United States by Sir Joseph Duveen. He staged follow-on exhibitions in New York, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and as a result secured a series of portrait commissions. These fell into two types - half-lengths of the type which had become familiar to Royal Academy visitors, and interiors such as The Library, 58 East 68 Street (private collection). These latter works aroused the jealousy of the aged, embittered Joseph Pennell who wrote, 'Here we have Sir RA etc etc Lavery among us, but I have not seen him, or for a long while noted at what hotel he is advertised to be stopping .. He may have come off socially, but artistically nup. Still his idea of doing the millionaires surrounded by their millions is not bad'.
It is likely that in achieving this success, Lavery had access to Duveen's client list. The matter of his hotel was important and upon arrival he was advised immediately to upgrade to the Ambassador overlooking Central Park, if he wished to be taken seriously. At least two views of the park, (both private collections), one a haunting night scene, are known. Pennell's 'artistic' verdict was also not universally shared. In a substantial article in The American Magazine of Art in February 1926, Lavery was praised for his 'dexterity in the suggestion of atmosphere' and for 'insight' which comes only from being embedded in the social world he was representing.
Some American clients clearly wanted the caché of Lavery's cool 'British' style, and this is what Harry Taft Hayward achieved in the portraits of his elegant daughters. Mary Elizabth Hayward (1906-1976) and Harriet Taft Hayward (1907-1968) were of old New England stock. Their portraits are likely to have been arranged through the Robert C. Vose Galleries in Boston, where Lavery staged his second American exhibition of 34 works. They were the daughters of Edith C. Wires of Milford, Worcester, Mass. and Harry Taft Hayward. Mary Elizabeth married the Chilean born Henry Bernard Arthur de Bruyne and eventually came to live in England at Red House, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, while her sister, Harriet, remained in Boston, marrying in 1935.
We are very grateful to Professor Kenneth McConkey for providing the above catalogue entry.