Friday, March 20, 2015

Molti Ritratti: Nancy Cunard

Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) was a rich heiress of the kind who led a messy, self-destructive life that ended in poverty, alcoholism and a degree of insanity. I speculate that, because she reached maturity when Modernism (and its rejection of the past and quest for a fabulous, new, to-be-determined-by-the-Modernist-elect, future) was becoming fashionable, this made things even worse than they might have otherwise been.

I'll spare you more details of her foolishness, but this link provides the basics.

Cunard's portraits were mostly photographic, but a few were painted. Here are examples of both:


By Man Ray (un-cropped version)
This seems to be a contact print.  Man Ray tended to cut the bottom at or just below her left elbow.

By Cecil Beaton
A fashion magazine image.

By Cecil Beaton - ca. 1930
This is one example from several taken at one shoot.  Probably not used for publication, as others were better.

By Ambrose McEvoy - ca. 1925
Doesn't really look like her.  Plus, I don't see her trademark bangles.

By Alvaro Guerva
A Russian look, but that was in fashion during the early 1920s.

By John Banting
Edging towards Surrealism, but a few bangles still show up.

By Oskar Kokoshka - 1924
A mess of a painting.

By Wyndham Lewis - 1922
Several sources mention that Lewis and Cunard were having an affair that year. This bangle-free drawing exhibits his skill in judicious modernist simplification that nevertheless retains the character of the portrait subject.

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