Helen Bradley (British, 1900-1979) Aunt Edith was Sixteen and Wept for Love 30.6 x 38 cm. (12 x 15 in.)

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Lot 16AR
Helen Bradley
(British, 1900-1979)
Aunt Edith was Sixteen and Wept for Love 30.6 x 38 cm. (12 x 15 in.)

Sold for £ 31,500 (US$ 42,180) inc. premium
Helen Bradley (British, 1900-1979)
Aunt Edith was Sixteen and Wept for Love
signed 'HELEN BRADLEY' and with fly insignia (lower right)
oil on board
30.6 x 38 cm. (12 x 15 in.)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The Artist, thence by family descent
    The Estate of Margaret Bradley

    Four Paintings from the Family of Helen Bradley (1900-1979)

    Born in 1900 as Nellie Layfield in Lees, a small industrial town on the northern fringe of Oldham, Helen Bradley would become one of the nation's most loved painters, but not until her late sixties.

    Helen (who changed her name from Nellie by deed poll) was born into a well-established family of local business owners. She attended art school in Oldham where she met fellow student Tom Bradley, who was considered the star pupil. Following a long engagement, the couple would marry in 1926 with two children to follow, Peter born in 1927 and Betty in 1931. Whilst both Helen and Tom painted throughout their lives, and it was accepted between them that if either had a chance of painting professionally Tom was the stronger candidate, neither pursued this career initially. Throughout the interwar years Tom worked in textile manufacturing for a Manchester based firm who specialised in hand printed fabrics (including several Omega patterns by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant) whilst Helen kept the home. Following the Second World War, Tom's work led the family to relocate to Middlesex. This afforded Helen the opportunity to visit the National Gallery and British Museum regularly and to attend art school in Harrow. The family returned to the North West in 1952 when Tom took early retirement to allow him to focus on his painting which consisted of portrait and flower commissions. They initially settled in Cheshire before buying a cottage in Cartmel on the edge of the Lake District in 1964. Now in her 60s, Helen painted with a renewed vigour, traveling around the Lakes producing misty landscapes in watercolour, whilst Tom rented a second nearby cottage as a studio for his portrait work. Together the couple joined the local Saddleworth Art Society, through which Helen first met L.S. Lowry. She once expressed to Lowry that she had always struggled to paint figures and he suggested that she should 'paint someone you know well, go home and paint your mother'. This she did, and the resultant portrait proved to be an important turning point. Shortly after she began painting scenes from her own childhood that she would become so loved for, depicting a world full of incident viewed with innocence and rendered in exquisite detail.

    It was not until 1965, at the age of sixty-five that Bradley had her first solo exhibition. Staged by the Saddleworth Art Society to much local acclaim, it led to a request from Cork Street's Mercury Gallery for six of her works to be included in an exhibition of naïve art the next year. There followed a little over a decade of subsequent highly successful exhibitions in Britain, America and Japan, and the publication of many much-loved books and prints. Bradley enjoyed a broad public profile that few artists ever achieve; she was announced by the media as 'The Jolly Granny' and 'England's own Grandma Moses' (although she notes her personal inspirations as Avercamp and Turner). She was appointed an MBE in the 1978 Queen's Birthday Honours, but sadly died before her investiture.

    The following four works were given by the artist to her son Peter. They have remained in the family collection since then, with Uncle Tom's Funeral Procession taking pride of place above the dining table.
Contacts
Helen Bradley (British, 1900-1979) Aunt Edith was Sixteen and Wept for Love 30.6 x 38 cm. (12 x 15 in.)
Helen Bradley (British, 1900-1979) Aunt Edith was Sixteen and Wept for Love 30.6 x 38 cm. (12 x 15 in.)
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