Derwent Lees – Aldbourne

Aldbourne, Wiltshire by Derwent Lees in the collection at Leeds Art Gallery Gift from the Contemporary Art Society in 1938. To view on the Art UK website, please click here

Leeds Art Gallery has this year received generous treatment from the Contemporary Art Society. “Aldbourn”, a landscape by the late Derwent Lees is a study of the little Wiltshire village in the rich colours of dawn, when the sky is already brilliant but the trees and buildings of the village are still slumbering in the half-light. One of the largest pictures Derwent Lees painted, it was exhibited in Australia and New Zeland in 1934-35. It was then the property of Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 26 March 1938 – British Newspapers, Find My Past

Derwent Lees (1884–1931) Australian painter, active mainly in Britain. As a boy he lost a foot in a riding accident. He studied at Melbourne University and in Paris before settling in London, where he trained at the Slade School, 1905–8. From 1908 to 1918 he taught drawing at the Slade. He was a close friend of J. D. Innes and Augustus John and often travelled and worked with them. His main subject was landscape and he shared with them a lyrical response to the countryside; usually he worked on a small scale, with fluid brushwork in oil on panel or watercolour. He travelled widely, visiting Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. In his biography of Augustus John (1976), Michael Holroyd describes Lees as ‘a copycat of genius…He could paint McEvoys, Inneses or Johns at will and with a fluency that sometimes makes them almost indistinguishable from their originals—though his figures with their great dense areas of cheek and chin do have originality.’ In about 1918 Lees began to suffer from mental illness and spent the rest of his life confined in an institution.

Text source: Art UK/A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press)

I’ve pulled two other paintings by Derwent Lees into my Curation with ArtUK

Lyndra. Sunset. Aldbourne – National Museum Wales

‘Lyndra’ was, Edith Harriet Price (1890-1984), who became known as ‘Lyndra’ when she modelled for Augustus John. Edith and Derwent Lees were married in 1913.

Aldbourne 1915 – Walker Art Gallery

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