DAVID KENTISH (c.1922-c.1965)
MODERN BRITISH (20th Century )
Bettina Shaw-Lawrence (England, 1940)
Oil on canvas
Attached to reverse of frame are two labels: Tate Gallery and Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, which is inscribed Cedric Morris and Bettina Shaw-Lawrence N.F.S.
Sir Cedric Morris; bequeathed to:
Cedric Morris's housekeeper, Millie Gomersall
London, The Tate Gallery, Cedric Morris Retrospective, 28 March - 13 May 1984, number 65 (as by Cedric Morris)
Description / Expertise
David Kentish trained as an artist under Cedric Morris at the East Anglia School of Art, together with Lucien Freud and Bettina Shaw-Lawrence. Kentish spent the first winter of the 2nd World War in Capel Curig, Wales, with Lucien Freud and the poet Stephen Spender, where they rented a room in a retired miner's house. They spent their days painting and the evenings drawing by lamplight. The winter was hard and there was little to do except work, read, talk and listen to the recordings of Bach that Kentish had brought. Freud's portrait of David Kentish, his rugger-playing school friend form Bryanston public school, along with the sketches he made at this time, was exhibited at the Matthew Marks Gallery, New York in 2003.
Kentish was also an actor and acting and stage management gradually took over his life. In New York on Broadway he acted in King Henry IV Part 1 & Part II and Oedipus Rex (1946) and was the production stage manager on Anthony and Cleopatra (1951) and Venus Observed( 1952).
Although this painting was in the Cedric Morris retrospective at the Tate Gallery in 1984 as by Cedric Morris, Bettina Shaw-Lawrence states that on her 20th birthday, both Lucien Freud and David Kentish painted portraits of her and gave them to her. Bettina was David were romantically involved at the time. She also has stated that she was deprived of both portraits by the school, as Cedric Morris placed them in the storeroom of the school and never returned them to her. Cedric Morris left this portrait by Kentish to his housekeeper, Millie, who assumed it was by him (maybe he also did in the later stages of his life).
Bettina Shaw-Lawrence was born in London in 1921 and left school at the age of 15 to study painting in Paris with Fernand Leger. At the outbreak of the war she returned to London and spent the summer of 1940 at Cedric Morris’ school in Suffolk. She first exhibited in mixed exhibitions both at the Lefevre and Leger Galleries. Her first “one man” show was at the Leicester Galleries in 1947, when she was 26 after she had returned to Paris at the end of the war. She travelled extensively in Europe and lived in Madrid. She now lives in Rome and has exhibited there, in Paris and New York.