VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA' An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, [c.1915-1970s]
Lot 221
VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA'
An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, [c.1915-1970s]
Sold for £ 4,375 (US$ 5,701) inc. premium

Lot Details
VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA' An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, [c.1915-1970s] VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA' An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, [c.1915-1970s] VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA' An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, [c.1915-1970s]
VIVA KING, 'QUEEN OF BOHEMIA'
An archive of manuscripts, photographs and original artwork relating Viva King (1893-1978) and her social circle, including Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Cecil Beaton, Ronald Firbank, Philip Heseltine (i.e. Peter Warlock), Rebecca West, and Olivia Manning, various sizes and formats, [c.1915-1970s]

Footnotes

  • Viva King (1893-1978), for over 40 years at the centre of London's artistic circles, was referred to by Osbert Sitwell as both "the Queen of Bohemia" and "the Scarlet Woman". "Viva King was never as promiscuous on the lavish scale of Nina Hamnett [see below], although she had a troubled affair Philip Heseltine. Her marriage to Willie King [British Museum curator and ceramics expert] was unconventional (both were said to proposition young gay men), but it enabled her to become the hostess in the 1940s of a successful salon at Thurloe Square, in London..." (Elizabeth Wilson, Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts, 2003).

    Manuscript material includes: a typescript of Viva's The Weeping and the Laughter. An Autobiography (1976), approximately 200 sheets, with extensive corrections, additions and deletions in Viva's hand; other related notebooks or papers in her hand; ephemeral correspondence from the 1960s including an excursive 2-page typed letter signed ("Olivia") from Olivia Manning concerning the death of Ivy Compton-Burnett and her bequests ("... I did not expect, or want, Ivy's money but if she wanted to leave me something, she could have left me something pleasing - Heaven knows, I went there as often as I could and at the end suffered a great deal of boredom...), 1969; 2-page autograph letter signed ("Rebecca") from Rebecca West discussing the death of her husband Henry Andrews ("... so many private jokes suddenly suspended.. but I don't feel quite as other people often do - the unqualified grief - because he was ill for so long", 1968; letter from "Tom/Violet" mentioning "... I went to the World Transvestite conference at Leicester [1975]. Gave a talk on reincarnation in a fur coat!"; a letter written (presumably unsent) by Viva to her doctor complaining having had to answer questions about her sex-life in front of a crowd of students.

    Artwork includes: portrait drawing of Viva in 1921 (225 x 155mm.) by Augustus John (reproduced in King's autobiography The Weeping..., 1976); portrait drawing of a seated woman (328 x 252mm.) by Nina Hamnett inscribed "To Viva. Nina Hamnett Aug. 19/1621"; portrait drawing of Viva (c.335 x 230mm.) by polish artist Mieczyslaw Kotarbiński (1890-1943) inscribed "à Mademoiselle Viva Booth Mieczyslaw Kotarbinski Paris 1921"; portrait print of Ronald Firbank by Wyndham Lewis, signed and dated (1925) by the sitter on the image; unattributed 1920s pencil portraits of Viva and ?Willie King; caricature pencil drawing of ?Peter Warlock (or Willie King) holding a vase.

    Photographs includes: portraits of Viva by Cecil Beaton (3 with Norman Douglas in her house, 1940s; 2 of Douglas alone), Hay Wrightson, Vivienne, Bertram Park, Felix Fonteyn, and other London society photographers; and a series of seven unsigned studies of Viva and her husband Willie in close embrace, including two topless. Others featured include Viva's husband William King, Augustus John (to whom Viva acted as secretary for a short while, 2), April Ashley (in 1969, close friend whom she introduced to her nephew, the bookseller "King" Richard Booth of Hay), the composer Peter Warlock/Philip Heseltine (one of Viva's lovers in the late 1920s, by Hay Wrightson), Lennox Berkeley, and Norman Douglas (including several by Cecil Beaton, 4 on contact sheet; one inscribed by Douglas).

Saleroom notices

  • The drawing, reproduced in "The Weeping and Laughter", of Viva in 1921 is NOT by Augustus John.
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