Portrait of the writer, D.H. Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930)…. Hewitt Henry RAYNER.

Portrait of the writer, D.H. Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930)…
Portrait of the writer, D.H. Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930)…

1929.

An original pen and ink portrait, 270 x 200mm; signed lower left Henry Rayner and inscribed "D H Lawrence 1929"; mounted and framed.

Portrait of D.H. Lawrence

This evocative portrait of the great writer brilliantly captures his likeness in his 44th year, at a time when he had returned to Europe from New Mexico and was suffering greatly from the tuberculosis that would kill him early the following year.

This evocative portrait of the great writer brilliantly captures his likeness in his 44th year, at a time when he had returned to Europe from New Mexico and was suffering greatly from the tuberculosis that would kill him early the following year.

This portrait of a short-time Australian resident (Lawrence was in Australia from May to August 1822, the last ten weeks spent in residence at Thirroul on the New South Wales coast) was painted by a significant expatriate Australian artist: Henry Hewitt Rayner was born in Melbourne in September 1902. His father Henry Redstone Rayner had arrived in Australia in 1886 at the age of 14 with his family from the Isle of Wight. Henry Hewitt grew up in Brighton, then a small coastal town to the south of Melbourne, where his father had a building business. Keen from a very young age to train as an artist he moved to England in 1923 and it was here he that he commenced his formal art training at the Royal Academy of Art. He was a student of Walter Sickert, who became his mentor, a relationship that evolved into a genuine friendship. It was here too he became a close friend of Augustus John. Rayner's work is held widely including at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection, as well as galleries in Australia and New Zealand.

The towering literary figure D. H. Lawrence was described by the novelist E. M. Forster as 'the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation'. His early novel, "Sons and Lovers", published in 1913, is set against his own background of a Nottinghamshire mining family. Later works dealt with personal relationships, sexual experience and spontaneous emotion and made a profound impact, both literary and social. His best known novels include "The Rainbow", 1915, "Women in Love", 1920 and "Lady Chatterley's Lover", 1928, the later banned until 1960.

Lawrence began in 1922 what he termed his "savage pilgrimage", a time of voluntary exile. He left England returning only twice for brief visits, and with his wife Frieda spent the remainder of his life travelling. They set off in an easterly direction, first to Ceylon and then on to Australia. A short residence in Darlington, Western Australia, which included an encounter with local writer Mollie Skinner, was followed by a stop in the small coastal town of Thirroul, New South Wales, during which time Lawrence completed his novel, "Kangaroo".

The Lawrences finally arrived in the United States with the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends, having written to his old socialist friend in Eastwood, Willie Hopkin, in 1915, "I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilisation… [with] a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…"

It was with this in mind that they made for the "bohemian" town of Taos, New Mexico, where Mabel Dodge Luhan, a prominent socialite, lived. Here they acquired in 1924 the 160-acre Kiowa Ranch, now called the D. H. Lawrence Ranch from Dodge Luhan in exchange for the manuscript of "Sons and Lovers". Lawrence died on 2 March 1930, aged 44, at Vence in France; his final resting place is this ranch in New Mexico.

On the verso of this evocative portrait is the following intriguing inscription dated Dec. 1944 in pencil. "To Ethel Mannin/ And this man, Henry Rayner, was/ not the white Peacock sitting on the/ stone statue in a churchyard/ A little wiser, a little humbler a/ little more searching". Ethel Mannin (1900-1984) was a novelist and one-time lover of both Yeats and Bertrand Russell. Rayner's enigmatic (and perhaps intimate) reference is to Lawrence's first novel The White Peacock, which explored themes of sexuality and the importance of a life fully-lived: themes which dominated his later work.

Provenance: Roy Davids collection of portraits of literary figures; Bonhams, London, "Creative Encounters: Portraits of Writers, Artists and Musicians", 3 October 2005

Price (AUD): $9,500.00  other currencies Ref: #4504957

Condition Report