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Literature and Art: Jackie Mallon about “Painted Women”

October 1, 2014

BetimesBooksNow

Jackie Mallon

Augustus John by Michael Holroyd My current reading: Augustus John by Michael Holroyd published 1974

Immersed in research for my second novel, I stumbled upon the painter, Augustus John. He was an interesting type and no mistake but it is his women who truly fascinate. Upon reading descriptions of them, how they spoke and looked and thought, I sought out their portraits. Style mavens with names like Dorelia, Ida (surname Nettleship, no less), Alick, Euphemia, Estella, Arabella, Guilhermina, Ottoline, Clarissa, Caitlin, Amaryllis, Iris, formed a pageant of poetically monikered muses that fuelled his art. They would fuel my sketches too if I had a collection to design. Instead they will fuel my fiction.

Marchesa Casati Marchesa Casati by Augustus John

Known for “a compelling stare when he looked at a woman,” Augustus John’s quest for the next enigmatic face was a compulsion he made no apologies for. It was a congenital weakness. A coquettish voice emanating from…

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