“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, January 24, 1923, Independent Gallery, 7a Grafton Street, Mayfair, London

Percy Moore Turner, 45, owner of the Independent Gallery, is pleased with how the pre-sales are going for this upcoming show.

Percy Moore Turner

When one of his best clients, Irish-American attorney John Quinn, 52, decided to sell off most of his paintings by British artists—particularly Welsh Augustus John, 45—he chose Turner because he was the easiest to work with. Other dealers here and in New York City were quite disappointed.

Turner and Quinn came to an agreement on the terms of the sale at the end of last year. Quinn didn’t want his name officially connected to the show, but once the press and public inevitably identify him as the collector, Quinn has advised Turner that he can just explain that Quinn feels the paintings should be back home in England, and that,

I am disposing of my English and certain American works and centering my purchases upon French works.”

At the beginning of this year, Quinn had turned down Turner’s offer of Vincent Van Gogh’s Asylum at St. Remy because he felt £4.000 was a “rather steep price.” Quinn has started to tighten up his buying, after over-spending a bit last year.

Asylum at Saint Remy by Vincent van Gogh

Just yesterday, Turner had written to Quinn about the pre-sale orders. Of the 65 Augustus John works, two have sold for £350 each and the Tate Gallery has reserved his Portrait of a Woman for £500.

Portrait of a Woman by Augustus John

As to Quinn’s concern that Augustus would not be happy about so many of his works being dumped on the market at once, Turner was able to report that

This morning I had the visit of John himself, who took the matter very well, and liked the hanging of the pictures…and incidentally gave me permission to photograph what I wanted.”

Truth be told, Quinn’s just not interested in Augustus’ work anymore. And he feels that the painter has been selling some of his best works to Quinn’s competitors.

However, Quinn is keeping four of Augustus’ paintings for himself, including the portrait the Welshman did of his benefactor, although Quinn never much liked it.

Portrait of John Quinn by Augustus John

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Thoor Ballylee in Co. Galway, and as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Next month I will be talking about the literary 1920s in Paris and New York City in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

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