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Woman in black jacket

Raymond McIntyrecirca 1917

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

This essay originally appeared in New Zealand Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2018).

Thirty-year-old Raymond McIntyre left Christchurch in 1909 for London, where he studied, exhibited and soon found recognition for his pared-back landscapes, townscapes and distinctive portraits, principally of idealised female ‘types’. In September 1913 he recounted to his father in New Zealand a visit to his Chelsea studio by a set of fellow artists, who were ‘all really very interested in my work — and genuinely so, which made me glad … they didn’t know anyone who did the same sort of work I did — specially meaning the heads. They liked the decorative qualities so, too.’1

The sense of calculated mystique and silent screen intensity in McIntyre’s oil portrait of graphic artist Edward McKnight Kauffer suggests yakusha-e — Japanese woodblock actor prints — as one of several influences. It also recalls artists whose exhibitions McIntyre saw and wrote about with enthusiasm: James McNeill Whistler, the Pre-Raphaelites and, aligned to the elusive mood, he sought Sandro Botticelli and Hans Holbein, specifically admiring the ‘aloofness’ in their work.

The American-born Kauffer, a young painter recently arrived from Paris and Munich, his art studies halted by war, also had an impact. McIntyre stayed with Kauffer and his wife in 1915 in the Berkshire countryside, painting alongside him in a similar sketchy style that recalled Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse. McIntyre’s most celebrated self-portrait was inscribed ‘To my friend Edward August 1915’ — seemingly intended for Kauffer, but retained in his own collection. Later, in the 1920s, as art reviewer for the <em>Architectural Review</em>, McIntyre also commended the quality of Kauffer’s poster designs.

More reductive, but with a similar sense of detachment, McIntyre’s <em>Woman in black jacket</em> shows that contrary to previous accounts, he was still painting in the period immediately before his untimely death in 1933. The model, Muriel Avery, who has only recently been identified, sat for him several times after moving to London from Farnham, Surrey, at the age of nineteen in 1930, when she found employment burnishing pottery for Harold Stabler. Upon marriage in 1944, she became Muriel Avery Huyghe and then another who followed the émigré impulse: moving with her husband to Vancouver, she later ran a pottery school and became well known in British Columbia ceramics circles.

Ken Hall

1 Raymond McIntyre to his father (photocopied letter), 30 September 1913, MS-Papers-8612-151, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

Details

  • Title: Woman in black jacket
  • Creator: Raymond McIntyre
  • Date Created: circa 1917
  • Physical Dimensions: Image: 330mm (height), 241mm (length)
  • Provenance: Purchased 1946
  • Rights: No Known Copyright Restrictions
  • External Link: Te Papa Collections Online
  • Medium: oil on panel
  • Support: wood
  • Registration ID: 1946-0003-3

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