John and -The Gypsy Lore Society

Lyric Fantasy circa 1913-4 Augustus John OM 1878-1961 Bequeathed by Mrs Reine Pitman 1972

Lyric Fantasy circa 1913-4 Augustus John OM 1878-1961 Bequeathed by Mrs Reine Pitman 1972


Yesterday I discovered Augustus John was the inspiration for ‘The Horse’s Mouth’ which was Bill Arnold’s favorite movie. Bill was the love of Christine Rosamond Benton’s life, and it was her desire to marry him one day. Then he was killed by a train the night of my eighteenth birthday. Exactly how and why this gifted artist and writer left the planet, remains a mystery, as does Christine’s death. What we know for certain, is Bill, Christine, and myself, were gifted artists. When my sister took up art, I was her role model. She wanted us to paint together, and be famous together.

He is said to have been the model for the bohemian painter depicted in Joyce Cary‘s novel The Horse’s Mouth, which was later made into a 1958 film of the same name with Alec Guinness in the lead role.

Do you recall this video where Michael and I talk about the Horse’s Mouth connection?

What’s going on? Are we back on the trail?

In the mural ‘Lyric Fantasy’ John’s employs members of his family, including a muse or two. Dorothy McNeill may be the center of attention. Here is Rena as Eurydice. Why is she half naked before the beautiful man playing the lyre?

I heard from no member of my family yesterday. For some reason, they all thought they were Art Experts, and when I disagreed, they fought me. My muses fought me! As a Art Historian, there is nothing I can do – but put them in my Literary Mural – just to render them stationary and well-behaved! I am not going to live forever and am compelled to leave behind a enduring legacy. Nothing has been easy. John managed to do it all. He got his muse and wife in bed with him, and, other women. He sired a hundred children between rendering masterpieces. John was surrounded by people. Like Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, and her good friend, Baron Rosenberg Rede, Augustus let everyone play. For him art was a group endeavor. The Gypsy Life is about adults playing and dancing together. Hippies did associate with his work.


My dear friend, Amy Sargent, once again gives me credit for saving her life. She is my favorite artist, and my favorite person after Marilyn. They both have modeled. I have a chance to paint with Amy, not side but side, but within our lifetime. Bill and I painted together. Amy’s boyfriend, Michael, makes Bohemian retreats in folks backyards. John’s has his family and muses traipsing about in Gypsy Wagons. Consider the Artist Thomas Hart Benton doing illustrations for Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’. Tiny houses on wheels are all the rage. The Kardashian family are becoming a family of muses. I see a new kind of portrait.

Consider Facebook and the Social Media. We are liquid and on the move. We are held together by our Gypsy and Bohemian Ways. Peter Shapiro called me last night, and we counted Hippie noses, those who were once at our extended family campfire, then, they wandered off into the good night. There go John with his poodle Charlie in their camper. These folks do not want to be forgotten. Artists send each other creative greetings every day of the year, even from beyond the grave. The Getty family owns much of the world’s art and would want to be seen in the famous Bohemian Family tree.

Last night there was a full moon on Christmas. The last time this happened was thirty-eight years ago. I always worry about Amy this time of year. She disappeared, again. Where does she go. She plows the sea, all alone, the last of her species. All artists go here, for a swim, where not even he narcissists can go.


Jon Presco

Copyright 2015

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John was known as a colourful personality who adopted an individualistic and bohemian lifestyle. Intrigued by gypsy culture and the Romany language, he spent periods traveling with gypsy caravans over Wales, Ireland, and Dorset. He based much of his work on these experiences, such as the painting Encampment on Dartmoor (1906). John was more modern in his approach to landscape painting, as seen in the bright palette and loose brushwork of paintings such as Llyn Trewereyn (1911–12) and The Little Railway, Martigues (1928).





After World War I, John’s creative vitality declined even as his reputation continued to grow. He painted portraits of many of the leading European personalities—politicians, society ladies, and literary figures—in a slick and somewhat superficial style, occasionally recapturing his former boldness and integrity of form. His most significant portraits include those of novelist James Joyce, playwright George Bernard Shaw, cellist Guilhermina Suggia, and poets Dylan Thomas and William Butler Yeats. John’s sister, Gwen John, was also a highly regarded artist who worked with the painter James McNeill Whistler and the sculptor Auguste Rodin.

This is one of four murals commissioned in 1909 to decorate the hall of the house in Chelsea of Hugh Lane, a private dealer in old master paintings. John designed the composition using his own family and friends as models, including at the right his wife Ida, who had recently died. It was painted from a full size drawing. John then painted out a figure at the centre, and suggested alterations to compensate. Hugh Lane died in 1915, and his paintings were never finished.
Lyric Fantasy was not displayed, nor given its title, until 1940. John devoted his early career to these decorative murals, which he based on drawings and colour sketches.

During her years in Paris she met many of the leading artistic personalities of her time, including Matisse, Picasso, Brâncuși, and Rainer Maria Rilke,[20] but the new developments in the art of her time had little effect on her, and she worked in solitude.[21] In 1910 she found living quarters in Meudon, a suburb of Paris where she would remain for the rest of her life. As her affair with Rodin drew to a close, Gwen John sought comfort in Catholicism, and around 1913 she was received into the Church.[22] Her notebooks of the period include meditations and prayers; she wrote of her desire to be “God’s little artist”[23] and to “become a saint.”[22] In an often-quoted letter of ca. 1912, she wrote: “As to whether I have anything worth expressing that is apart from the question. I may never have anything to express, except this desire for a more interior life”.[24]

After meeting Belle Burch for the first time at Ken Kesey Square I did a three-minute sketch of her while looking at the video I made. Belle has a sculpted face that artists love to draw. I already compared her to Botticelli, and then Leonardo. Alas, I placed Belle’s face in the family of  Augustus John who I was compared to when young. His muse was Dorelia McNeil who dressed in Javanese clothing and brought this foreign lifestyle to England. Belle’s mother, Catherine Vandertuin, introduced Javanese Gamelan to Eugene.

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In 1972 Redé had his portrait painted by the fashionable painter Anthony Christian. In 1975 the Hôtel Lambert was purchased by Baron Guy de Rothschild, whose wife, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild was a close friend of Redé, who inherited her beloved dachshund “Whiskey”; the Rothschilds henceforth used it as their Paris residence.

The Gypsy Lore Society was founded in Great Britain in 1888 to unite persons interested in the history and lore of Gypsies and rovers and to establish closer contacts among scholars studying aspects of such cultures. David MacRitchie was one of its founders and he worked with Francis Hindes Groome until 1892 to produce its quarterly journal. From 1892, the organisation was dormant until its revival in 1907, when MacRitchie became its president.

Another early member of the society was Sir Richard Burton, who wrote from Trieste in 1888:

We [The Gypsy Lore Society] must advance slowly and depend for success upon our work pleasing the public. Of course, all of us must do our best to secure new members, and by

The Two Jamaican Girls (ca. 1937)

Augustus John poses for the American press on board a ship.

Early in 1900, he married his first wife, Ida Nettleship (1877–1907); the couple had five children. After her death in 1907, his mistress Dorothy “Dorelia” McNeill, a Bohemian style icon, became his partner and later became his second wife, with whom he had two children. One of his sons (by his first wife) was the prominent British Admiral and First Sea Lord Sir Caspar John. His daughter Vivien John (1915–1994) was a notable painter.[24]

By Ian Fleming‘s widowed mother, Evelyn Ste Croix Fleming née Rose, he had a daughter, Amaryllis Fleming (1925–1999), who became a noted cellist. Another of his sons, by Mavis de Vere Cole, is the television director Tristan de Vere Cole noted for his contributions to TV series from the Sixties to the Eighties. His son Romilly (1906–1986) was in the RAF, briefly a civil servant, then a poet, author and an amateur physicist. Poppet (1912–1997), John’s daughter by his second wife, married the Dutch painter Willem Jilts Pol (1905–1988) whose daughter Talitha (1940–1971), a fashion icon of 1960s London, married John Paul Getty, was famously photographed in Marrakesh by Patrick Lichfield, and, after a brief hedonistic life, died of a drug overdose. His daughter Gwyneth Johnstone (1915–2010), by musician Nora Brownsword, was an artist.[25]

Augustus John’s promiscuity gave rise to rumours that he had fathered as many as 100 children over the course of his life.[26

Christmas I hope that we shall find ourselves on the right road. Mr. Pincherle writes to me hopefully about his practical studies of Gypsy life in Trieste. As regards Orientalism in England generally I simply despair of it. Every year the study is more wanted and we do less. It is the same with anthropology, so cultivated in France, so stolidly neglected in England. I am perfectly ashamed of our wretched “Institution” in Hanover Square when compared with the palace in Paris. However, this must come to an end some day.[page needed]

backtop8 backtop10 backtop14 backtop25Since 1989 it has been headquartered in the United States. Its goals include promotion of the study of Roma, Gypsies and Travelers. Gypsy Lore Society publications include journal ROMANI STUDIES continuing Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society and Newsletter of the Gypsy Lore Society. The biannual journal, Romani Studies, concerned with disseminating accurate information aimed at increasing understanding of these cultures in their diverse forms. The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society appeared in four series, starting in July 1888. The Society’s archives are held at the University of Liverpool.

Among the Gypsy and Traveler cultures represented include those traditionally known as Roma, Sinti, Calé, Romnichels, Ludar, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers and others.

The Society also sponsors programs and conferences. The Society has established the Victor Weybright Archives of Gypsy Studies, specializing in recent scholarly work on Gypsy, Traveler and related studies, for the benefit of researchers and students.

Current president of the Gypsy Lore Society is Elena Marushiakova.

Talitha Pol married John Paul Getty, Her father was Willem Jilts Pol, a painter who subsequently married Poppet John daughter of the painter. Tlaitha is related to Peter and Ian Fleming, and my kin, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, who descends from the Dutch families of Rover and Rosemondt. We are looking at a modern-day Dutch Bohemian Renaissance!

Ian Fleming’s novels generated more money from his books made into movies than Dan Brown, and was a real spy working with real codes.

Note how Garth Benton’s mural blends with Talitha’s shoot at the Getty mansion, where this photo of the world famous artist ‘Rosamond’ was taken.

Talitha was a Libra, a Bohemian Venus and lover to famous Rock Stars. She was a wild Bohemian woman, and is in my Family Tree.

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(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dorothy (Dorelia) McNeill (19 December 1881- 23 July 1969) was best known as a model for the Welsh artists Gwen John and Augustus John, was the common-law wife of the latter, and has been credited for inspiring “his first unequivocally personal work”.[1] In her time she was regarded by some as an exemplar of bohemian fashion.[2]

Dorothy McNeill was born in Camberwell, the daughter of a clerk and the fourth of seven children.[3] While attending the Westminster School of Art in 1903 she met Gwen John, who in turn introduced her to her brother Augustus. That year Gwen and McNeill traveled together on foot through France, following the Garonne River.[4] During a stay in Toulouse Gwen John painted several oils of McNeill, including Dorelia in a Black Dress,[5] before the two proceeded to Paris, where they briefly shared quarters in 1904.[6] McNeill left for Bruges with a Belgian artist, and was pursued by Augustus, with whom she returned to England. She lived in a ménage à trois with Augustus John and his wife Ida Nettleship, sometimes as part of a Gypsy caravan that would grow to include John’s children by both women.[7] The arrangement lasted until Nettleship’s death in 1907, when McNeill became the principal female figure in the John household.[3][8] Later she had an affair, at Augustus’ encouragement, with the painter Henry Lamb.[3]

McNeill is often described as quiet and enigmatic.[4][9] In Gwen John’s work she appears detached and simply dressed; in Augustus John’s art she at times served more exotic purposes, wearing scarves and long dresses,[10] but was also the subject of domestic scenes, including those which show her with Augustus’ first wife and their children.[9][11] It is said that she “made a significant contribution to the ‘bohemian utopianism’ of the artist’s most intensely creative period, c. 1903-1914.”[9] Eventually she had two sons and two daughters with Augustus. She lived with him until his death in 1961.[3] Her step-granddaughter was the 1960s bohemian fashion icon Talitha Getty.

Known for “a compelling stare when he looked at a woman,” Augustus John’s quest for the next enigmatic face was a compulsion he made no apologies for. It was a congenital weakness. A coquettish voice emanating from a plumply pretty face sustained his imagination at least for the duration of a portrait–as long as the coquettish voice knew to silence itself. He didn’t like talkative women.

Mistresses and wives overlapped in the same household. Sometimes his women shacked up with each other when the mystery had faded for him and a new intimacy had bloomed between them. He needed to consummate every passion for it to be meaningful to his work. To that end he would send his chosen one heartfelt letters, chase her to Paris, beseech and promise until she succumbed. They always succumbed. He was a roguish long-haired six-footer wearing dramatic Victorian coats and sporting an untamed beard.

Before he ever put brush to canvas, his vision often propelled him to style his muses in costumes. He looked to women for clues to the world and his existence in it. But he didn’t care for intellectual women. Although some of the letters written by Ida, his simple, long-suffering first wife, to her friend are the loveliest to read:

“You know I was very near the laudanum bottle–somehow it seemed the next thing. Like when you’re tired, you see an armchair and sit down on it. Now you ‘know all’, I feel a sort of support–it is funny. Others know, but no one has given me the support in the right place as you have. One held up an arm, another a leg, one told me I wasn’t tired and there was nothing the matter…With you I have something to sit on!”

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Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Rédé, 3rd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé[2][3][4] (4 February 1922 – 8 July 2004), aka Alexis, Baron de Rédé, was a prominent French banker, aristocratic, aesthete, collector,[5] and socialite.

Rédé was named in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1972.[6][7]

Oskar Dieter Alex von Rosenberg-Redé[8] was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the younger son and third and youngest child of Oskar Adolf von Rosenberg-Redé, Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1878–1939), a banker from Austria-Hungary.[9] His father—whose mother was Hungarian, whose father was unknown, and who was adopted by a banker by the name of Rosenberg—became a citizen of Liechtenstein and was created a baron by the Emperor of Austria in 1916.[3][2][10][11] Alexis’s mother was Edith von Kaulla, a member of an ennobled German Jewish family that had been part-owners of the Bank of Württemberg. Redé was educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland.

He had two siblings:

  • Hubert von Rosenberg-Redé, 2nd Baron von Rosenberg-Redé (1919–1942)

  • Marion von Rosenberg-Redé (born 1916), who was handicapped [3]

Following the suicide of his father at the family’s estate Villa Rosin near Vienna, Redé moved to New York City, where he briefly attempted to acquire American citizenship.[4][12] His brother committed suicide in Hollywood in 1942, whereupon Redé became the third and last Baron von Rosenberg-Redé, which was typically abbreviated as Baron de Redé in France. In 1946 he returned to Paris, in the entourage of Elsie de Wolfe.[9]

The baron was described as “the Eugène de Rastignac of modern Paris” by Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon and as “the best host in all Europe”; his parties were famous.[17]

Redé’s Hôtel Lambert dinner parties were at the center of le tout Paris. Philippe Jullian described the world of Lopez-Willshaw and Redé as like a small 18th-century court: Members of the circle included the poet and patron of the Surrealists, Marie-Laure de Noailles (1902–70); such musicians as Henri Sauguet, Georges Auric, and Francis Poulenc; and the artist Christian Bérard. Important influences were the interior decorators Georges Geffroy and Victor Grandpierre. Cecil Beaton photographed Nina Ricci‘s costumes for “the elegant aesthete” at the sensational 1951 Bal oriental given by his friend Carlos de Beistegui at his Venetian palace, the Palazzo Labia.[18]

In 1956, at Alexis de Redé’s Bal des Têtes, young Yves Saint Laurent provided many of the headdresses—the Duchess of Windsor being one of the judges—and received a boost to his career. When Diana Vreeland heard of the plans for Redé’s upcoming Bal oriental, to be given on 5 December 1969, she promptly contacted the Baron expressing her interest in having the event photographed by Vogue.[19] The guest list was the crème de la crème of the international high society, with such attendees as Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Aimée de Heeren, Georgian Abreu or Douce François Freitas.

In 1972 Redé had his portrait painted by the fashionable painter Anthony Christian. In 1975 the Hôtel Lambert was purchased by Baron Guy de Rothschild, whose wife, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild was a close friend of Redé, who inherited her beloved dachshund “Whiskey”; the Rothschilds henceforth used it as their Paris residence.


by Charles Slade,photograph,1909

by Charles Slade,photograph,1909

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About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to John and -The Gypsy Lore Society

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    The Rosemond Art Dynasty.

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