Raymond McIntyre and Phyllis Constance Cavendish

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Thursday 8 September 2011
Ron Brownson

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A renowned collaboration between a New Zealand artist and model occurred in London’s Cheyne Walk studio of Raymond McIntyre between 1912 and 1914. Born in Christchurch in 1879, he was one Petrus van der Velden’s most talented pupils. McIntyre felt Canterbury constricted his vocation. Arriving in England during February 1909, he never returned. He soon became a pupil of London painters William Nicholson, George Lambert and Walter Richard Sickert.

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McIntyre met 22-year actor Phyllis Constance Cavendish and she became the subject for over a dozen portraits in oil and watercolour. Writing to his father on 4/5/6 December 1912, he states, “I did the best work I have ever done so far, from her. I like to go outside the usual run of professional models, of which there are hundreds and hundreds in London – and get people of more normal type and who do not live in the atmosphere of studios all the time. It is more interesting to have a breath of the outside world come along with different interests and information to impart. These stage folk who I have had are very helpful to me in that way….”

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From Bassano’s photographic portraits of Phyllis Cavendish, it is clear that her head’s bone structure, long neck, full lips, dark eyebrows, wavy hair, and small defined nose are all conveyed in Raymond McIntyre’s portraits. The Gallery has three fine portraits of Miss Cavendish. They have never been reproduced with Bassano’s 1913 portraits before. I am grateful to the National Portrait Gallery in London for access to these fine portraits. I would hope that they now add the date that I have discovered for the portraits to their own website. I cannot find any evidence of someone currently doing any work in Britain at present on Raymond McIntyre or Phyllis Constance Cavendish . What a beautiful woman.

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CREDITS
Raymond McIntyre
Woman in a broad-brimmed hat c1914
watercolour
1946/5/1

Lizette c1913
oil on board
1976/34/2

Felice c1913
oil on board
1976/34/1

Bassano
Phyllis Constance Cavendish c1913
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London
X1010308 and X101309