About 1928, Huge Moreland and Ralph Barnby talk about art when they meet at the Mortimer [CCR 30-31]. Moreland said of Barnby: “I can see Ralph has talent…but why use combinations of colour that make you think he is a Frenchman or Catalan?”
Moreland is based on Powell’s close friend, the composer Constant Lambert. Like Moreland, “Lambert loved discussing painters, Böcklin to Braque, Breughel to Brangwyn,…” [TKBR 147]. Powell wrote: “If I have been skillful enough to pass on any echo of Lambert’s incomparable wit, then Moreland is like him;” [TKBR 148] However, Powell also says that although Moreland and Lambert share Bronzino-like features, they are far from identical.
We have already mentioned that many of Barnby’s characteristics are similar to those of another good friend of Powell, Adrian Daintrey (1902-1988). Daintrey’s first major exhibition was in 1928. His modern heroes were Utrillo, Manet, Derain, and Matisse. As this portrait Susan shows, he did not hesitate to use bright colors.
We are guessing that Moreland was thinking of the Frenchman Matisse and the Catalan Miro. When Moreland chides Barnby about his colors, he may be echoing Lambert’s anger about Miro, who was asked to paint the sets for a ballet that Lambert was writing, while Lambert favored his friend Chistopher Wood for the job. [TKBR 146-147]Joan Miro (1893-1983) was born in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan region of Spain, and maintained close ties with his native city. His work is noted for its bright colors, whether in his Fauvist or Surrealist phases or in his more realistic work. In Masaccio to Matisse, we did not show a colorful piece, so to the right is a portrait that illustrates Matisse’s use of color. Miro and Matisse, as colorists, can be seen as descendants of Van Gogh and Cézanne and ancestors of the Color Field style of abstraction that developed, mostly in the US, in the 1950’s.
Barnby sits down and says he has just been to see ‘the London group;’ he and Moreland proceed to discuss English and, later, Parisian painting.
The London Group was organized in 1913 by artists, such as the Camden Town Group and the English Cubists, who rebelled against the Royal Academy. The organization is now over a century old, with a constitution and officers, and continues to encourage and exhibit young artists. In their early years, they were champions of Post-Impressionism in Britain. In April and May, 1928 they presented The London Group Retrospective Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries. A few copies of the exhibit catalog, written by Roger Fry and others, still exist. A number of the London Group artists who showed in that exhibition, such as Epstein, Sickert, Lewis, and John, are mentioned in Dance and have appeared or will appear elsewhere in our blog.
Nina Hamnett showed a Head of Rupert Doone in the London Group Retrospective of 1928. We have chosen to show her work as an example of what Barnby saw because she also did a portrait of Powell and introduced him to her next door neighbor, Adrain Daintrey (TKBR 137). The details of her bohemian adventures in the artistic milieus of Paris and London are beyond our scope but are accessible in her memoir Laughing Torso (1932).