Lavery painting of no ordinary lady

Painting of Viscountess Castlerosse is the highlight of the next de Veres auction

The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs, 1938 by Sir John Lavery, an oil-on-board painting measuring 20x24 in (50.8x61cm), is estimated at €50,000 to €70,000. Right, Viscountess Castlerosse with a friend in Deauville, 1936

The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs, 1938 by Sir John Lavery, an oil-on-board painting measuring 20x24 in (50.8x61cm), is estimated at €50,000 to €70,000. Right, Viscountess Castlerosse with a friend in Deauville, 1936

 

The highlight of the de Veres art auction in Dublin later this month is The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs, 1938 by Sir John Lavery. It’s quite unlike his usual portraits of early 20th century aristocratic women. But then Viscountess Castlerosse was no ordinary “lady”.

Born Doris Delevingne in modest circumstances in Streatham, south London, in 1900, she was the daughter of a Belgian immigrant and English mother. As a teenager, Delevingne entered the rag trade selling second-hand designer gowns to showgirls. She became well known on the fringes of London high society in the 1920s and achieved considerable notoriety when, in 1928, she married Valentine Edward Charles Browne, Viscount Castlerosse, later the sixth earl of Kenmare.

He was a former captain in the Irish Guards who became a Sunday Express gossip columnist and founded Killarney Golf Club.

Their marriage was a disaster and she became a media “celebrity” – famous for her extravagant clothes, wild parties and, reputedly, numerous affairs. The couple had no children and divorced after 10 years.

 

Grand-niece Cara Delevingne

Viscountess Castlerosse was often photographed for newspapers and magazines – like her grand-niece, the model Cara Delevingne – and had her portrait painted by Winston Churchill as well as Lavery. The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs, 1938 was painted by Lavery during a house party in the Californian desert resort.

Rory Guthrie of de Veres said Lavery had made two versions of the painting – the present one painted “at the poolside” and another, larger one, which was sold at Sotheby’s in 1997.

According to Kenneth McConkey’s catalogue note for de Veres: “It was said of Viscountess Castlerosse that she was notable for three things – her beauty, her legs and her vocabulary. Although he could only demonstrate the first two, Lavery is likely to have appreciated all three.”

Commenting on the painting, McConkey wrote: “Lavery captured his quarry when her legendary legs were on show, to the delight of a male admirer. It was a provocative pose that courted controversy – the man in this case being unidentified.”

In 1942, Viscountess Castlerosse, by then ostracised by London society, took an overdose of sleeping pills while staying in the Dorchester, and died aged 42. Her former husband, who had become the earl of Kenmare, died a year later and was buried in the family vault in Killarney cathedral.

The Viscountess Castlerosse, Palm Springs, 1938 by Sir John Lavery, an oil-on-board measuring 20x24 in (50.8x61cm), estimated at €50,000 to €70,000, will go on public view in Bewley’s Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, from Sunday, September 28th, ahead of the auction on Tuesday, September 30th, at 6pm.

For the full catalogue see deveres.ie.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.