Why is it interesting to look at artists couples?

Reading more about an artist’s life and their relationships, can guide you to new discoveries – to artists not as well known, but making work just as exciting as your favourite ones.

Mary Fedden is one of Britain’s best-loved artists, her works well known across the country and hugely recognisable. Her husband, Julian Trevelyan, is perhaps less known today, but was a highly important artist, exhibiting with the Surrealists in the 1930s. We are very fortunate to have a group of works by both artists in the sale, lots 54-56, that were previously owned by British collector Paul Clarke. Most movingly, this includes a work by Fedden depicting Trevelyan, lot 55, demonstrating his enduring impact on her life and art.



Lot 55: Mary Fedden OBE RA RWA, Man and Bird


How have artists couples worked together?

Gertrude Hermes and Blair Hughes-Stanton were married in the 1920s and worked together on a number of printed works and co-directed the Gregynog Press together from 1930 to 1933, working with another artist couple, William McCance and Agnes Miller Parke. We are fortunate to have works from the estate of Hughes Stanton, lots 144-145, as well as a wonderful sculpture by Hermes from a private collection, lot 143, on the theme of Adam and Eve. Both artists would share an interest in Old Testament and Creation scenes.

Kenneth Hall and Basil Rákóczi, shared an artistic vision throughout their careers, and founded the Surrealist influenced The White Stag Group together. This became particularly influential when they moved to Ireland in 1940. We have an excellent oil by Kenneth Hall from this period, lot 227, along with two later works by Rákóczi, lots 228-229, demonstrating their shared influences.


Lot 227: Kenneth Hall, Untitled (Yellow figure), c.1942


How can I learn more about artist couples?

The best way is to read biographies on the artists and artist’s memoirs. These offer a more emotional side to an artist’s world – as well as amusing and moving anecdotes from their lives.


Lot 28: Alfred Horace Gerrard, Figure studies and Portrait study, 1937


In this sale, we will be offering a collection of works from the Estate of sculptor A. H. Gerrard and his wife, painter Katharine Leigh-Pemberton, lots 28-31. Each of these works will be accompanied by the book 'A. H. Gerrard: His Life and Work' by K. L. Gerrard, 2019, to give a greater understanding of their work and life together.


Where can I see the work of artist couples together?

Most famously in Britain is Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The couple had an unconventional relationship; Bell was married and Grant was queer, but had a daughter, Angelica Garnett, together in 1918. We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful portrait study of Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant in our sale, lot 138, made c.1916. Grant made 3 versions of paintings relating to the composition, are now in public collections; the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the artists' home at Charleston. We also have a work by Grant’s lover, George Bergen, for sale, lot 37, a rare find at auction.


Lot 37: George Bergen, Marseilles


This theme was also recently the subject of a major exhibition ‘Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde’ at the Barbican Centre in 2018, which also included international couples such as Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.