Archive for December 2016

Fedden, Mary, 1915-2012; Fruit at Christmas

Fruit at Christmas is by Mary Fedden and is at the Whitworth. The next Persephone Post will be on Tuesday January 3rd (we are closed on Monday 2nd). Happy New Year to everyone!

Symons, Mark Lancelot, 1887-1935; The Day after Christmas

The Day after Christmas is by Mark Symons (1887-1935). Obviously this should have been on the Post three days ago! But we try to tailor the Post to the days the shop is open – which today it is, and tomorrow and Saturday. And it’s the kind of mood which still continues.


Merry Christmas is by the Danish painter Viggo Johansen (1851-1935) who was best known during the 1890s. This was painted in 1881. Merry Christmas to all Persephone readers!

rav chmas pudding 1938 v and a

This plate by Eric Ravilious is ‘Christmas Pudding’ pattern and it’s 1938: we have never seen an actual piece, but it will be somewhere on the top floor at the V and A. Someone came in to the shop and asked for Tirzah Ravilious’s book but we firmly said, do you mean Tirzah Garwood – and if we have anything to do with it that is how she will be known forever, as a superb artist and writer in her own right.

Christmas-Tree-1911 albert tayler

Christmas Tree (1911) is by Albert Chevallier Tayler, details about his life here.

Budgett, Beatrice Helen, 1870-1944; Christmas Roses

Beatrice Helen Budgett lived from 1870-1944, her Christmas Roses is at Bristol Art Gallery, does anyone know anything about her life and career? She was evidently a stunning painter.


(c) Margaret Thomas; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Christmas Table by Margaret Thomas (1916-2016): very like one of the tables in the shop at the moment.  ‘In Margaret Thomas’s work, as in her life, there was a down-to-earth poetry and a complete rejection of all pretentiousness. Her key influences were Braque and Philip Wilson Steer and the creative tension produced between these two giants led to what she termed as “a long tug-o-war” in her studio. The happy result was a flow of evocative pictures, underpinned by robust draughtsmanship and deft, almost abstract design. Working solely in oils, and always indoors, Margaret Thomas painted commonplace subjects (flowers, interiors, water-dominated landscapes) which were rendered extraordinary by her singular vision. Somehow she never repeated herself, but always found a fresh angle and a new light. Returning most frequently to the motif of a dying flower, she draws endless inspiration from these spiky, spectral and sculptural presences. “Fading, dried, left to themselves, flowers begin to die from the beginning. When picked they must be left alone to fulfil their destinies, to orientate to the light, to sort out their relative strengths, to stabilise and to mature. They cannot be arranged. All this I seek to show in my paintings.” But rather than appearing elegiac, each Thomas flower piece attests to the strength and the beauty of nature’ (New English Art Club).


A 1955 Cepea fabric at MODA. (The Winds of Heaven is 1955 and this would have been rather suitable, although is in some ways not so dissimilar from the fabric we did use, here.) Cepea  was at St. James’s Buildings, Oxford Street, Manchester, it was: ‘a Manufacturer of Cotton, Rayon and Linen Piece Goods for Dress, Lingerie, Shirtings and Furnishings. Also of Handkerchiefs for all Markets.’  There are about fifty other MODA fabrics online here,with details of access to the collection here.

  • MoDA Image

    Another 1934 fabric, this one designed by Edwin Parker. This would have been appropriate for most of our 1934 books  – but not for Harriet or A London Child of the 1870s.



    John Churton designed this for the Silver Studio in 1934, it was a textile but would also have made a beautiful rug. The ‘Titles by Publication Date’ list on our website reveals that we have six novels published in 1934: The Country Housewife’s Book  by Lucy H Yates, Miss Buncle’s Book  by DE Stevenson, Dinners for Beginners  by Rachel & Margaret Ryan, Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins, They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple and A London Child of the 1870s by Molly Hughes, but actually this very bold, modernist fabric would not have been right for any of them – except possibly for They Knew Mr Knight but even then one could not imagine Celia choosing it.

    george willis 1929

    George Willis designed this beautiful fabric in 1929, the moment we have an appropriate 1929 book we shall be using it.


    A week of textiles taken from the collection at MODA (Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture) at Middlesex University in Hendon, North London (although it is only available to view by appointment, details here). This is a 1904 fabric designed by  Leborgne.



    So here is the unattributed painting, date unknown and the only clue, or red herring, is that on the back it says Murrey, but this could be the name of the previous owner. It seems to our admittedly amateur eyes to have a look of Meninsky, especially in the legs, the colours and the composition. Another clue is that Meninsky’s wife’s father was a policeman and might have been the model for this one. The biography by John Russell Taylor tells us that during WW2 (because this painting could be WW1 or WW2) Meninsky was living in Oxford and  painted two pictures of Red Cross workers packing food parcels for prisoners of war. Also there is an echo of one of his favourite themes – mother and child. What do people think?

    Meninsky, Bernard, 1891-1950; Sketch of Soldiers Arriving on Leave

    Soldiers arriving on Leave is a sketch and it is undated: but presumably it’s also late 1918. Tomorrow, finally, the painting which needs an attribution will be on the Post and comments will be gratefully received..

    (c) Mrs Nora West/Bridgeman; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

    And The Arrival of a Leave Train,Victoria was again painted by Meninsky in September/October 1918.

    on the departure platform 1918

    In March 1918 the British War Memorial Committee was set up to commission art on particular war subjects from suitable artists. Meninsky was employed in September at the suggestion of Sickert. He was asked to go to Victoria Station and paint a picture or pictures “representing typical London scenes, during and after the arrival of a leave train from the front.”  On the Departure Platform is also at the Imperial War Museum.

    Meninsky, Bernard, 1891-1950; Victoria Station, District Railway

    This week on the Post we are asking for help. We bought a painting (which is sometimes in the shop window) from Paul Liss a few years ago. No one knows  who painted it. But someone has suggested Bernard Meninsky and this seems a very plausible idea. So from Monday-Thursday this week we are having four paintings by Meninsky and then on Friday we shall have the anonymous painting. And we would love to know what Persephone readers think. Or, indeed, someone may have another suggestion as to the painter. First of all: Victoria Station District Railway 1918, it’s at the Imperial War Museum and is such an amazing painting, up there with Flora Lion’s painting of a works canteen (on the Persephone Post in April).


    One or two of Laura Knight’s ‘Circus’ plates are sometimes on show in the shop window. The circus  teapot is something else! It’s hard to imagine  the people who bought the beautiful circus plates actually using the teapot without giggling. But perhaps that was the whole point.


    This teapot, date unknown, is the most extraordinary pink. We use it in the shop and always exclaim in amazement at the pinkness of the pink.

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    59 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB