Friend of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Greta Garbo and the Queen Mother held exquisite art collection
A strikingly colourful surrealist painting from the collection of Fleur Cowles is to go on sale at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale on 19th June at New Bond Street, London. Enrico Donati's stunning painting Fleurs surréalistes, which is estimated at £20,000 30,000, formed part of Fleur's cherished collection, comprised of works by artists she knew personally.
Fleur Cowles was a leading light in the worlds of design, publishing and advertising, establishing her name as an important high society editor with Flair, her short-lived but hugely influential magazine. She developed a legendary A-list address book, counting among her friends a suite of American presidents and celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace of Monaco and was asked by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be his special envoy to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. A painter herself, Fleur's works were greatly admired by collectors including her friends James Stewart and Greta Garbo.
She famously declared that in her homes in Europe she would only hang pictures by artists she knew personally. She acquired the Donati painting directly from the artist, with whom she shared a great affinity since her own painting also tended towards the surrealist.
Painted around 1945, Fleurs surréalistes is an outstanding example of Donati's brand of Surrealism, which combines the free and spontaneous use of form and colour, labelled Automatism, with a conflicting approach presenting the real world through fantasy, known as Illusionism. The painting is a vision of bright colour spread across the canvas with flowing, almost abstracted forms, from which emerges a vision of the vase and delicate flower petals.
William O'Reilly, Director of Impressionist Pictures, said, "Fleur Cowles was a remarkable woman with an eye for striking surrealist paintings. She had a great appreciation of the finer things in life, sharing her exquisite lifestyle with the crème de la crème of high society. Donati's Fleurs surréalistes is a dazzling example of late surrealist painting from her collection, by a pivotal artist who acted as a great influence on later artistic movements".
Enrico Donati is considered a major figure in the last phase of classical Surrealism. Insulated from the bitter in-fighting that had characterised the movement since the 1920s, he was seen by the Surrealist pioneer André Breton as a vital force, capable of mediating between the conflicting strands of Illusionism and Abstraction in the movement. Donati later became an important bridge between Surrealism and the later artistic movements of Spatialism in Italy and Abstract Expressionism in America.