Pavel Tchelitchew was born in 1898 in Moscow, and first gained artistic recognition in the early 1920s in Berlin as a stage designer. In 1923, Tchelitchew moved to Paris where he began painting figures and portraits, and designed sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes. In 1925, Tchelitchew was introduced to Gertrude Stein, who hailed him as one of the greatest discoveries of the age. Stein invited her protégé to see her collection of early Picassos. These early works had a considerable effect on Tchelitchew’s palette and vision. He was particularly influenced by Picasso’s Rose Period (1905-6), however, by 1926 the pale reds in his paintings became screaming pinks. Soon he began to abandon colors and work only with black, white, ochre, burnt and raw umber.
The Ransom Center has six art works by Pavel Tchelitchew including this portrait of Edith Sitwell, on display this Spring in the exhibition, “Semblance: a Portrait Sampler.” The work can be dated to the late1920s when the artist was working in a darkened palette and heavily influenced by Picasso’s Rose Period. Sitwell was a life-long patron and intimate friend of Tchelitchew. In her autobiography, Taken Care Of (1965), Sitwell writes of Pavel Tchelitchew, “that tragic, haunted, and noble artist—one of the most generous human beings I have ever known.”
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) seems an unlikely subject for Diego Rivera (1886-1958) but the two frequently rubbed elbows in Parisian avant-garde circles during the period that Rivera lived and painted there among the Montparnasse crowd. Rivera's elegant drawing of Cocteau—executed in 1918, just as he was emerging from the influence of Cubism and reconnecting with his classical roots—is a masterpiece of modern portraiture. Discovered by Carlton Lake, Ransom Center Executive Curator of French Collections, with other Cocteau treasures, in the basement of a grand old mansion near the Palace at Versailles, the drawing came to the Ransom Center with Lake’s collection. It has become one of the Carlton Lake Collection pieces most requested by art historians and curators the world over for exhibition and publication.
Henry Maximillian (“Max”) Beerbohm was born August 24, 1872. A wry caricaturist and satirist, Beerbohm was loved well enough in his time to be knighted. George Bernard Shaw called him “the incomparable Max.”
The Art Collection of the Ransom Center has 161 works by Beerbohm, among them two frescoes he painted in his beloved home in Rapallo, Italy, where he died in 1956. One of these paintings, Twenty-one Prominent Men will be in the spring exhibition “Semblance: a Portrait Sampler” opening at the Leeds Gallery on February 1. The other, Edwardian Parade , will be on exhibit in “Gutenberg to Gone With the Wind: Treasures from the Ransom Center”, which opens at the LBJ Library and Museum on May 3.
Acquired in 1962, the frescoes are in black and white with blue water-based paint on plaster mounted to fabric on a strainer, and were taken from the walls at the villa. A preparatory drawing for Edwardian Parade, now in a private collection in London, is inscribed with the following:Sketch for a fresco – which has since been executed by me, quite seriously, on a ladder, in Villino Chiaro. The faces are the faces that have always come easiest to me . . .Max.
Sir Max Beerbohm, Edwardian Parade c. 1922. Tempera and gesso on board. On the far left is Edward VII; on the far right is Winston Churchill.
Sir Max Beerbohm, Twenty-one Prominent Men. c. 1922. Tempera and gesso on board. Primarily authors, these profiles also include artists, such as John Singer Sargent, politicians and other notables.
February 1 - July 31, 2001
Leeds Gallery, Fourth Floor, Flawn Academic Center