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Sir Gerald Festus Kelly K.C.V.O., P.R.A., R.H.A., H.R.S.A., N.P.S. (British, 1879-1972)

Lady Evelyn Hely-Hutchinson Farquhar

as 'The War Widow' 1915/6


oil on canvas 

35 ¼ inches x 29 ¼ inches 

In antique giltwood exhibition frame measuring 40 ¾ inches x 36 ½ inches


Exhibited at:

The Royal Academy of Art (London) 1916 no.61, as "The Lady Evelyn Farquhar".


According to Sir Gerald Kelly's personal card indexes now held at The National Portrait Gallery archives, Kelly began the present portrait of Lady Evelyn in July 1915 at Camberwell Vicarage; 

it was completed about March 1916 at 65 Gloucester Place, London.


Kelly describes the present picture as:

"Lady Evelyn Farquhar 1915-16. 3/4 length in gold & black dress - black velvet & green turban - begun at Camberwell - finished about March 1916 at 65 Gloucester Place. 1916: London Royal Academy"; a subsequent note refers to lady Evelyn's first sitting as July 1915. Baraset House thanks the archivists at The National Portrait Gallery for their valued assistance in cataloguing this work.


Lady Evelyn was Vice-President of The National Association of Women of Canada (The Aberdeen Association) and married Colonel Francis Douglas Farquhar DSO (1874-1915) of the Coldstream Guards, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry & recipient of the Distinguished Service Order.

The present portrait of Lady Evelyn was painted shortly after her husband was killed in action in Belgium in 1915, and while Lady Evelyn was Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Alexandra (Arthur of Connaught). Here, Lady Evelyn Farquhar is pictured with her bird, an Australian 'Princess Alexandra's Parrot'.


The portraits of Lady Evelyn

Four portraits of the Irish-born Lady Evelyn Hely-Hutchinson (daugher of the 5th Earl of Donoughmore of Knocklofty) were exhibited in her lifetime - two by the Irish artist John Lavery, and two by Sir Gerald Kelly, also of Irish heritage. All four portraits were co-ordinated by the Irish art dealer Sir Hugh Lane.


The earliest was titled 'The Sisters' (1906), a double portrait of Lady Evelyn & Lady Norah Hely-Hutchinson by Lavery, exhibited in Edinburgh and Manchester (1907) and currently held in a private collection.


The second portrait, a tour de force by Lavery titled 'Lady Evelyn Farquhar' was painted on the occasion of her marriage to Colonel Francis Douglas Farquhar in 1906, and exhibited at the Irish International Exhibition (1907). This full-length portrait was recently sold at Sotheby's (London) Irish Art sale 9 Sept 2020, from the Collection of Michael Smurfit (K Club), lot 22.


The present painting by Sir Gerald Kelly was the third portrait of Lady Evelyn, painted while Lady-in-waiting to Princess Alexandra of Connaught and shortly after the death of Col. Farquhar. Exhibited at The Royal Academy of Art (1916) no.61 "The Lady Evelyn Farquhar".


The fourth portrait was commenced by Kelly at the same time as the present painting - in July of 1915 at Camberwell Vicarage. In his studio notations, Kelly describes this alternate 1915 pose as "standing half-length - full face - in black lace", and exhibited at The International Society 1916. This alternate full face pose was later reworked by Kelly upon the occasion of Lady Evelyn's second marriage in 1923 to Sir Dougal Orme Malcolm KCMG of Poltalloch. Kelly added a string of pearls and a wedding ring to the formerly somber black lace mourning costume he had painted in 1915. Kelly describes the reworking of the portrait as follows: "March 30 - April 7 1923 - entirely repainted in four sittings, pearl necklace added"; exhibited at The Royal Academy of Arts (London) no.116 "The Lady Evelyn Malcolm" (present location unknown).


It is interesting to note that all four exhibited portraits (two by Lavery and two by Kelly) were co-ordinated by the influential Irish art dealer Sir Hugh Lane, who went down with the R.M.S. Lusitania in 1915, the year the present portrait was painted. According to Derek Hudson, "no one did more for Kelly as a young artist than Sir Hugh Lane" who was introduced to Kelly by another Irish artist - Sarah Purser had advised Lane to purchase a work of Kelly's on exhibition in Paris in 1906/7.

In 1950, Kelly told The Irish Times that Hugh Lane "became my earliest and greatest patron. All my first twenty commissions - and those are the ones that count! - I got through Lane." The present portrait of Lady Evelyn was one of those first twenty commissions from Lane, who successfully launched the career of Gerald Kelly as one of the leading society portrait painters in Britain.



Derek Hudson, 'For Love of Painting - The Life of Sir Gerald Kelly', 1975.

S.B. Kennedy, 'Irish Art and Modernism 1880-1950', Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University, Belfast, 1991.

Brian Stewart and Mervyn Cutten, 'Dictionary of Painters in Britain up to 1920; Royal Academy Exhibitors (1905-1970) vol.4.

Punch, or the London Charivari, 10 May 1916, illustrated on p.311.


Sir Gerald Festus Kelly PRA (British, 1879-1972) 'Lady Evelyn Farquhar', 1915/16


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  • Additional information

    The portraitist Sir Gerald Festus Kelly enjoyed one of the most distinguished careers of any twentieth-century British artist, being one of only four artists to be awarded The Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (K.C.V.O.), serving as President of The Royal Academy of Art (1949-1954), and acting as favourite portraitist to several generations of The British Royal Family.


    This portrait represents an important turning point in the career of Gerald Kelly, and may be considered one of the final portraits of 'his early years'. The last of the portraits painted in the studio at his father's Camberwell Vicarage, the 1915/16 portrait of Lady Evelyn retains both a lively spontineity and depth to his brushwork, and a theatricality to his composition and characterization that made his early works so effective.


    The Great War, Kelly's move from Camberwell Vicarage to Portman Square, and his marriage in 1920 mark a transitional period in Gerald Kelly's artistic life; it was noted by Kelly's biographer Derek Hudson that "there was a warmth and humanity about much of [his] early work which Kelly rarely recaptured later...His conscientious craftsmanship and self-effacing detachment ensured a high level of achievement in any portrait he undertook. But he became to some extent a victim of his success. The long procession of the eminent who eventually sat to him made it necessary to save time by the use of photography. This may have tended to induce [in his post-war era] a certain flatness, a lack of spacial depth, which contrasted with the earlier work." (p.43)


    Hudson notes that "by the summer of 1914, Kelly had established himself as a leading portrait-painter" (p.37) During the lengthy period in which the present portrait of Lady Evelyn was painted "Kelly became exhausted in transferring his parents and himself, after his father's retirement from Camberwell [Vicarage] in 1915, to the tall Georgian house at 65 Gloucester Place, Portman Square, where he was to live and work (he built a large studio in the garden) for the next fifty years and more" (p.37).


    Several years before sittings of the present portrait began, Kelly's closest friend, author Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage) "begged [Kelly] to acquire a studio in the west-end, promising to advance the money if his father would not do so; he felt it was amateurish to go on painting people in a Camberwell vicarage." The 1915/16 portrait of Lady Evelyn appears to have been the last portrait Kelly painted at his father's Camberwell vicarage, where Kelly had lived for 35 years, and where he painted "in terms of poetry and atmosphere" arguably his finest works [see "The Vicar in his Study" portrait of Frederic Festus Kelly at Camberwell Vicarage, Collection of The Tate Gallery (London)].


    The end of the Great War marked a change in Kelly's earlier style of painting, a change which may also have been brought forth by Kelly's marriage in 1920 to Lilian 'Jane' Ryan who brought "a quiet strength and sense of reponse that Kelly badly needed to stready his restless energy" and whom he had met in 1916 (Hudson For Love of Painting p.41).


    Kelly had developed a depth, spontineity and warmth in his portraits during his time in Paris (1901-09) with famed art dealer and friend Paul Durand-Ruel, his experiences with Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Rodin, Gaugin, Grace, Maillol, as well as his great friendships with other British painters & novelists living in Paris such as Somerset Maugham, Walter Sickert, James Wilson Morrice (Canadian), Clive Bell, Roderic O'Conor, John Singer Sargent; this artistic sponteneity and fluidness was rarely achieved again after the First World War. The painterly, emotive characterization of his 'early years' gave way to a quiet, measured academic precision for the remainder of his career.


    Kelly was elected A.R.A. in 1922, R.A. in 1930 and President of the Royal Academy in 1949. Kelly was knighted in 1945 by George VI. Clive Bell declared in 1956 "one thing is certain, [Kelly] is about the best president the Royal Academy has given itself since Sir Joshua Reynolds (Bell Old Friends 1956)." 


    A great raconteur and bon vivant, he delivered what might serve well as his epitaph, at a speech to The Royal Academy in 1953: “I am a naughty old man, utterly unrepentant in my love of things beautifully done.”


    Kelly's works are housed in numerous important public collections including the National Portrait Gallery (London), Tate Gallery (London), British Museum, Windsor Castle (Royal Collections Trust), The Frick Collection (New York), BBC England, Altingham Park (National Trust), Glasgow Museum, The Royal Society, UK Government Art Collection, Royal Academy of Arts (London), Royal College of Music (London), Windsor Guildhall, the National Gallery of Canada, Eton College, University of London, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford.

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