||View images of paintings
'browse catalogue' then going to 14 October Travel Sale
and browse catalogue again.
The Lots are 129 - 139.
FINAL SALE OF PAINTINGS FROM
THE MARTIN RUSSELL COLLECTION
Martin Russell is the son of the London merchant banker Gilbert
Russell, 1875-1942. Gilbert Russell was the son of Lord Arthur Russell, brother to
Hastings, 9th Duke of Bedford and to the diplomat Odo Russell, later the first Lord
Ampthill; they were the nephews of Lord John Russell who was twice Prime Minister.
Martin Russell acquired his interest in modern art from his mother,
Maud Russell (the daughter of the German Jewish stockbroker and racehorse owner Paul
Nelke). She had been painted by several English artists, including Nicholson, Orpen and
McEvoy, and had sat for drawings by Matisse in l937.
Russell was educated at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge. In
1940 he became assistant Private Secretary to Duff Cooper, the Minister of Information. In
1941 Duff Cooper became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and was sent, with his wife
Lady Diana, by Churchill to Singapore to report on the co-ordination of the numerous
British Government departments active in the Far East. The Japanese made landings in
Malaya in December and Duff Cooper and Lady Diana returned to England in January 1942.
Russell remained in Singapore to close the office.
Marin Russell was lucky enough to escape to Sumatra two days before the
Japanese occupied Singapore. After working his way through Sumatra and java, he arrived in
Ceylon on a river steamer on the 13th of February, 1942
He was assigned to the cypher office at the museum in Colombo by the
Army command. He was introduced to Lionel Wendt where he saw his first painting by Keyt.
Martin Russell recollects meeting Keyt in Colombo two years later for the first time at
the inaugural exhibition of the 43 Group and also purchasing all the Keyts exhibited
Subsequently posted to Lord Mountbattens staff in Kandy, he
formed a friendship with Keyt and other members of the 43 group. He built up an
extensive collection of the early works of the members of this group.
Martin Russell may be considered as one of the patrons of the 43
group in its formative years and helped the individual members by purchasing their
Russell returned to England in 1946 where he started to write his book
The Art of George Keyt. As Keyt had moved to Bombay in 1947, Russell decided to spend more
time in Ceylon and India in order to enable him to complete the book, which was published
by Marg in Bombay in 1950.
Martin Russell is now selling at Sothebys eleven paintings from
his collection. Four George Keyts from the early 1940s all oil on canvas and seven
paintings by Ivan Peries mostly from the 1940s and one painting from 1951.
The sale is scheduled for the morning of Tuesday, 14th of October, 2003
at Sothebys in Bond Street.
George Keyt (1901-1993)
Born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and educated at Trinity College, Kandy, Keyts
earliest drawings appeared in sundry school magazines and Ceylon newspapers, and in 1916 a
pen and ink drawing of a head was exhibited at the Ceylon Society of Art exhibition. He
started work as a professional painter in about 1927 encouraged by Lionel Wendt. His
subjects were the Kandyan landscape, the people and their culture. In the 1930s he was
influenced by Hindu mythology and art and Buddhism. His depiction of episodes from the
Jatakas, (the narration of the Buddhas previous lives), culminated in the
representation of the life of the Buddha on the walls of the circumambulatory shrine room
of the Gotami Vihara, Colombo. He was an original member of the 43 Group of Artists which
earned an identity for Ceylon in international art. At the same time Keyt was also exposed
to the influence of early cubist landscapes, as well as Picassos distortion of the
human figure. It was Keyts unique achievement to fuse these influences into his
In 1954 his work was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in
London by Sir Herbert Read and Sir Roland Penrose, and afterwards this exhibition traveled
to the Art Institute, Rotterdam. His paintings have been displayed in art galleries in
India, and in many leading capitals of the world, and are to be found in the permanent
collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The British Museum, London as well
as various public collections in India and Sri Lanka and private collections worldwide.
||Archer, W.G. India and Modern Art, London, 1959
| Keyt Foundation
||George Keyt Foundation, George Keyt - A
Centennial Anthology, Colombo, 2001
||Russell, M. George Keyt, Introduction and
Biographical Note, Bombay 1950
Ivan Peries (1921-1988)
Born at Dehiwela, Ceylon, he began his painting career in the late
1930s. He was a founder member of the 43 Group of artists and he studied under the painter
Harry Pieris as a result of the recommendation of Lionel Wendt, who was the inspiration
and mentor of the 43 Group.
In 1946 Ivan Peries went to London to study at the Anglo-French
Institute in St Johns Wood. The following year he visited Paris with Martin Russell.
He then spent three years of artistic activity in Ceylon between 1950 and 1953 before
returning to England. His marriage to Veronica Perry in 1955 was a happy one and there
were four children. The family lived in Southend-on-Sea where Peries died in 1988.
Periess art reached a high point of development between the mid
1950s and 1960s. His paintings are evocations of the coastal fishing villages and
landscape of his native Ceylon. He exhibited regularly in Colombo and frequently showed
his work at many notable galleries in London, Oxford and Cambridge and also in Paris,
Venice and Brussels. His pictures were also exhibited posthumously at the Hayward Gallery,
South Bank, London in 1989. His work is included in many permanent collections including
the Petit Palais, Paris, the Lionel Wendt Collection, Sri Lanka, and the Imperial War
Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and has featured in several reviews,
articles and books on contemporary Sri Lankan and South Asian art.
||Bandaranayake, S. and Fonseka, M. Ivan Peries
Paintings 1938-88, Colombo 1996