Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Irish Sitter: Now This Is One Good Looking Woman! My Love for the late Hazel Lavery

On a painting trip to Brittany in 1904, Lavery, a widower since 1891, met Hazel Martyn (1887-1935), the daughter of a Chicago industrialist of Irish extraction. She was then engaged to a Canadian doctor, who died shortly after their marriage. In 1909 she and Lavery married. Hazel*, a beautiful and fashionable woman who herself liked to draw and paint, became Lavery's most frequent sitter. Her well known face and the characteristic red, purple and gold colour harmonies make The Red Rose immediately recognisable as a portrait of her. However, the canvas was begun in 1892 as a portrait of Mrs William Burrell. In 1912, it was transformed into a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, and in the early twenties it was, for a brief period, a portrait of Viscountess Curzon.
Lady Hazel Lavery was a rare beauty.  There are many good looking Women and women considered to be sexy.  To me, sexy is never skanky, cheap, over-board or manly.  Men are lumpy hideous creatures only kept in check of the savage natures by beautiful women.

I fell madly in love with Hazel Lavery the first time I cashed in my Travellers Cheques for Irish dough at Shannon Airport.  Poor Ireland went to Euro and back to the Third World.


Hazel Lavery's looks went on money - Irish money.  Her looks were the corporeal representation of the ideal Irish icon Cathleen Ni Houlihan .

* Hazel Lavery: The portrait to the left is Lady Hazel Lavery (1880-1935). From 1928 to the early 1970’s, Lady Lavery’s portrait adorned all Republic of Ireland banknotes as the female embodiment of mother Ireland. A love for Ireland and a keen interest in Irish politics often brought Mrs. Lavery to Dublin where she assisted the Nationalist cause. With her husband, renowned artist Lord Lavery, she hosted the historic Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 at her home in London which finally brought an end to the Irish War of Independence. Famed for her close friendship with the Irish patriot Michael Collins, she continued to fight for his causes after Collins’ assassination despite threats to her life and unfair comparisons to Kitty O’Shea.

Watching Eamon De Valera dismantle the Treaty and the diplomatic links she had worked so hard to establish, Lady Lavery died in 1935 at the age of 55, believing her life to be utterly without purpose. She received at token of appreciation from the Irish government when they placed her portrait on their currency, the Irish pound, as a ghostly watermark representing love and patriotism.

No comments: