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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE PAT AND PENNY ALLEN

Edward Burra
FLAMENCO BAND
JUMP TO LOT
2

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE PAT AND PENNY ALLEN

Edward Burra
FLAMENCO BAND
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art

|
London

Edward Burra
1905-1976
FLAMENCO BAND
pencil, ink, watercolour, gouache and wash on paper laid down on board
56.5 by 77cm.; 22¼ by 30¼in.
Executed circa 1930.
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Provenance

Alex. Reid & Lefevre Ltd, London, where acquired by a Private Collection, U.K., July 1961
The Mayor Gallery Ltd, London, where acquired by the late owners, 20th February 1968

Exhibited

London, Whitford and Hughes, The Surrealist Spirit in Britain, May 1988, cat. no.13 (as Flamenco Orchestra); 
London, Crane Kalman Gallery Ltd, Edward Burra, 10th April - 10th May 2008;
London, Browse & Darby, A Critic’s Choice Selected by Andrew Lambirth – Part I (1900-1950), 19th October - 11th November 2011.

Catalogue Note

From an early age Edward Burra had been fascinated by foreign travel, and throughout his life he visited as far afield as America and Mexico. But it was the Mediterranean cultures that were to provide the greatest draw for the artist, most notably his love affair with France and Spain. Having first visited Josephine Baker’s Paris at the age of 20 in 1925, Burra had dreamt of the South of France and on receiving proceeds from his first major sale (for three paintings sold to Hugh Baker) at the age of 22, Burra immediately declared ‘…I think of going to Toulon Nice Valencure Cassis Cannes and Marsailles [sic]…’ (Edward Burra, quoted in Jane Stevenson, Edward Burra: Twentieth Century Eye, Jonathan Cape, London, 2007, p.197). His desire was fulfilled in September 1927 when he first travelled to the South of France with his great friend Billy Chappell. He wrote with characteristic flair to Barbara Ker-Seymer from Cassis ‘our hotel is a dream of delight… everyone walks about with drawing books and canvasses the canvasses look a bit futurist you know you cant tell its’s the old manse at twilight or death at the festival… We are going to Marseilles on B’s birthday you know us men … the guide books says [it] is a veritable ghettos of houses of ilfame my dear I stares into every window hoping for a thrill…’ (Edward Burra, letter to Barbara Ker-Seymer, 24th September 1927, quoted in William Chappell (ed.), Well dearie! The Letters of Edward Burra, Gordon Fraser, London, 1985, pp.36-7).

Lured into the intoxicating world of bars, theatres, musical halls and cafe cabarets, Burra’s experience in Paris and amongst the eclectic crowds in the South of France had a fundamental impact on the direction of his art in the late 1920s and early ‘30s. He spent hours sitting in the street-side cafes and bars soaking up the atmosphere and observing the acute idiosyncrasies of the passing crowds. Dated to around this time, the present work was painted at the height of his interest in the heady French bohemian underworld and clearly displays his fascination with all things theatrical, drawing on the dancers he would have encountered in the theatre halls in Paris, and his great imagination. Closely relating to similar works such as Flamenco Dancer (1931-2, Private Collection), the dancing figure also provides the genesis for his depiction of female heroines such as Mae West (1934-5, Private Collection) seen in later works.

Although it was not until 1933 that Burra finally visited Spain - with his close friend Conrad Aiken, Aiken’s wife Clarissa, and the young writer Malcolm Lowry – here he captures the Spanish flair with great gusto and theatricality, whilst showcasing the artist’s unrivalled understanding of the medium of watercolour. An exhilarating combination of actual and imagined realities, Flamenco Band fuses together the kitsch glamour embodied by the flamboyantly polka-dotted diamanté dress of the female dancer, with the everyday grittiness of the insalubrious guitarists seated behind.

Modern & Post-War British Art

|
London