Mondrian, the London Pictures

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In his excellent book Mondrian in London, how British art nearly became modern, Charles Darwent lists the ten (or perhaps eleven, see note 1) paintings 'bought by, or given to, English friends and clients in the decade between 1930 and 1940' (p.95) and describes their subsequent destinations. The paintings and their fates are shown below.

B254 Composition B (No.II) with Red, 1935

  • 1936 Helen Sutherland (Penrith)
  • 1965 bequeathed to Nicolete Gray
  • loaned to the Tate then in 1997, on Nicolete's death, given to the Tate in lieu of death duty.
Mondrian B254 Composition B (No.II) with Red, 1935

B261 Composition C (No.III) with Red, yellow and Blue, 1935

  • 1936 Nicolete Gray (Oxford)
  • 1969 given as a wedding present to her daughter Camilla when she married Oleg Prokofiev and taken to Moscow
  • returned to London after Camilla's death in 1971
  • currently on loan to the Hepworth, Wakefield.
Mondrian B261 Composition C (No.III) with Red, yellow and Blue, 1935

B237 Composition with Double Line and Yellow, 1932

The photograph, from Mondrian in London, shows Jake and Kate at Bankshead with the painting in the background. The painting was also photographed with Mondrian in his boulevard Raspail studio, shown in the main listing.

Mondrian B237 Composition with Double Line and Yellow, 1932 Mondrian B237 and the Nicholson children

B270 Composition en Bleu et Jaune, 1937

  • First owned by the NZ pianast Vera Moore (a close fiend of Winifred Nicholson in Paris)
  • 1951 at the Sidney Janis Gallery, NY
  • 1954 owned by Norman Laskey NY
  • 1960 back at the Sidney Janis Gallery
  • 1971 at the Davlyn Gallery, NY.

The Davlyn Gallery listing is the last reference in the Catalogue. I only have a small colour image of this painting from Michael Sciam's web site: any leads on the whereabouts or a more detailed photograph would be welcome.

The photograph, again from Mondrian in London, shows the painting in Vera Moore's Sussex cottage.

Mondrian B270 Composition en Bleu et Jaune, 1937 Mondrian B271 installation Vera More

B262 Composition (A) en Rouge et Blanc, 1936

  • First consigned to Ben Nicholson in London)
  • in 1936 it was bought by Leslie and Sadie Martin
  • sold around 1955 to fund the building of a new house in Cambridge, it moved to J.L. Mallin in Dallas
  • then, year unknown, to Mrs Charles H Russell Jr in New York.
  • By 1964 it was, in common with many others, at the Sidney Janis Gallery
  • 1968 in a private collection
  • It sold at Sotheby's, New York in May 2002 for $5.3M
  • back to a private collection

The main listing explores price inflation for Mondrians, cameras and labour.

Mondrian B262 Composition (A) en Rouge et Blanc, 1936

B284 Composition No. 2, 1938

  • Mondrian gave this to Robin and Joan Ody as a wedding present in 1940 (he was one of their witnesses). They moved to Worcester after the war.
  • in 1961 it was auctioned locally and bought by the Marlborough Gallery, London.
  • Then to Beverly Hills with Rita and Taft Schreiber
  • and in 19889 to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, given by Rita Schreiber in loving memory of Taft Schreiber.

The photograph, from Mondrian in London, shows the painting in the Ody's London home. Darwent suggests that this is the only painting that Mondrian both started and finished while in London.

Mondrian B284 Composition of Red, Blue, Yellow and White, 1939 Mondrian B304 installation Ody

B256 Composition (No.II) Blue-Jaune, 1935

  • 1936 owned by Winifred Nicholson
  • 1937 on loan to Alastair Morton, who decided not to buy it, but
  • 1937 Winifred's sister Nan Roberts bought it for £25, selling it in 1956 when she divorced.
  • It sold in 1960 to G David Thompson of Pittsburgh through the New York dealer Harold Diamond but in the same year is reported (in the Catalogue) as being in the Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
  • In 1964 it is with Frederick and Marcia Weisman in LA,
  • then back to Harold Diamond and in 1968 to 1968 Joseph H. Hirshhorn, Brooklyn
  • and since 1972 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., gift of J.H.H.

The photograph, from Mondrian in London, shows the painting in the front kitchen of Winifred Nicholson's home Bankshead.

Mondrian B256 Composition (No.II) Blue-Jaune, 1935 Mondrian B256 installation at Bankshead

B277 Composition de Lignes et Couleur: III, 1937

A simpler journey,

  • 1938 bought by JR Marcus Brumwell
  • sold in around 1965 to finance a 'Modernist cottage' in Cornwall
  • via the Marlborough Gallery, London to the Haags Gemeentemuseum in 1967.
Mondrian B277

B292 Composition No.1 with Grey and Red, 1938

Bought by Peggy Gugenheim in 1940 and, since 1968 at her Venice gallery.

This is the only work Mondrian actually sold while in London (Darwent p.66).

Mondrian B292 Composition No.1 with Grey and Red, 1938

B272 Composition en Rouge, Bleu et Blanc, 1937

  • Mondrian first consigned this to Ben Nicholson in 1938, then
  • in 1940 gave it to Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth.
  • Hepworth kept the painting when they divorced in 1951.
  • in 1958 it was sold through Gimpel Fils Gallery, London for £11,000.
  • By 1963 it was owned by E.J. Power, London
  • in 1973 it was at the Galerie Tarica, Paris
  • and in 1975 acquired by the Musée national d'art moderne, Paris.

Darwent suggests that Barbara Hepworth's £11k would have helped to finance the casting of her Homage to Mondrian at Winchester Cathedral.

Mondrian B272 Composition en Rouge, Bleu et Blanc: II, 1937



In addition to B284, the Odys might have had a second Mondrian. A letter from Mondrian to Ben Nicholson states that they bought 'the little picture' (assumed to be B284) on instalments, but Darwent reports that the Ody's son Jonathan was told that B284 was a wedding present: Jonathan Ody has suggested that they might have bought a second painting. 'When they were bombed out of 3 Mall Studies in 1942, the couple left behind a trunk of paintings which was later stolen.' (p.106)
The Catalogue only lists B284 against Robert Ody's name (Index of Provenances, vol 2, section III, p.88). None of the 27 works listed in the Catalogue's Unidentifiable References (vol 2, section II, p.453) appear relevant.

It would seem, then, that the Odys' second Mondrian is an intriguing possibility, but that there is insufficient information to add it to the list of Missing Mondrians.

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page created July 2012