John S. Currie (British, circa 1884-1914) Dolly Henry on Hampstead Heath

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Lot 5
John S. Currie
(British, circa 1884-1914)
Dolly Henry on Hampstead Heath

Sold for £ 31,250 (US$ 42,731) inc. premium
John S. Currie (British, circa 1884-1914)
Dolly Henry on Hampstead Heath
signed and dated 'Currie/1913' (lower right)
oil on canvas
61 x 46cm (24 x 18 1/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired by the family of the present owner prior to the 1970s
    Private Collection, U.K.

    Staffordshire born John Currie studied first at the Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley Schools of Art and at then the Royal College of Art, London. Following a teaching position in Bristol and a period in Ireland he returned to the capital to enrol at the Slade School in the summer of 1910. There he befriended Mark Gertler and C.R.W. Nevinson and with them formed the 'Coster Gang', latterly referred to as Neo-Primitives. A gifted artist and magnetic personality he was remembered by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska as 'a great painter, and a magnificent fellow' and Michael Sadleir as 'blazing with genius'.

    Although married with a young son, shortly before the war Currie met a young Irish model named Dolly Henry with who he embarked on a volatile, intense affair. Utterly infatuated by late 1913 Currie had left his wife and lived with Dolly near Hampstead Heath. Their relationship was highly tempestuous, riddled with jealousy and not to last. By the following year Currie had fallen into depression. In a fit of rage fuelled by rumours that Dolly had posed nude for photographs, he went to her Chelsea apartment and shot her dead. Currie then turned the gun on himself fatally. He was just thirty years of age and she ten years his junior.

    In the present work Dolly is identifiable by her rounded face, dark red hair, almond shaped eyes and full cheeks. She is depicted at the foot of Hampstead Heath and the maternal arrangement is contradicted by the disconnected gaze between the two figures. The identity of the child is unknown, however the likeness to Dolly is strong, suggesting she may be a family member.
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