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Showing posts from September, 2015

Cora Gordon in Coterie 1919

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Browsing Coterie magazine, No. 2, September 1919, I came across the following drawings by Cora Gordon.


The charming line drawings of goose and pig showcase Cora Gordon's virtuosity with a pen. 
Cora's ability to rapidly sketch with a fountain pen was well known in my house and was celebrated in a chapter of A Step-ladder to Painting by Jan Gordon.
Another well known set of pen drawings by Cora Gordon were of my aunt Pamela.
For other works of art by Cora Gordon, including many drawings, please see.


A March 1913 exhibition by Jan and Cora gordon in Paris

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L'Homme Libre (18th July 1913) contains a note from Henri Manuel about a Paris exhibition by Jan and Cora Gordon which had opened on the 28th of March, 1913.

The show is discussed in Comoedia(26th March 1913), though they mistake the nationality of the Gordons as American and Jan becomes "Jean"! "Une centaine d'oeuvres seront exposées a partir du 28 Mars à la Galerie Henri Manuel, 27, rue du Faubourg Montmartre. Ce sont les œuvres de deux artistes américains de grand talent: M. Jean Gordon et Miss Cora Gordon"

"L'Art et les Artistes" also mentions this show:



The exhibition was advertised in the daily "Informations" in Gil Blas:



Gil Blas (29th March 2013) carried the following comment under the header "Entente cordiale."

The Gordons are correctly recognised as English and their originality is praised. A good crowd of elegant English and French personalities attended the opening. André Salmon had written a preface in the catal…

Jan and Cora Gordon exhibition at Galerie Henri Manuel, December 2nd 1913

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Browsing old editions of Gil Blas, I came across this note about the opening of an exhibition by Jan and Cora Gordon at the Galerie Henri Manuel, at 9:00 pm on the 2nd of December 1913.


The note states that this would be the second exhibition by the Gordons at the gallery. The first was in March 1913 (L'Homme Libre, July 18th 1913).
Jan Gordon would be exhibiting paintings and watercolours, whereas Cora Gordon would show paintings, etchings and decorated fans.
I had previously found a review of this show in L'Homme Libre, dated December 6th 1913.
Very enjoyably, this notice and the review link to the "GRADUS AD ... MONTPARNASSUM" piece by Jan Gordon, published in Blackwood's, March 1929, under his "Salis" pseudonym. I had deciphered "M" in that story as Henri Manuel and "de M" as the famous Édouard de Max (I noticed that Ken Bryant was quick to pick up on the information, without acknowledgement).
The note in Gil Blas mentions that

Jan and Cora Gordon "By the Fireside", 1933

"From a Yorkshirewoman's Notebook," Monday October 2nd 1933 (Yorkshire Evening Post).

"I did not want to read a book from cover to cover - just to delve casually into the pages of some 'nice absurdity.' The fog was outside, and the fire within, so I settled down to laugh with Jan and Cora Gordon over some of their adventures in London after living 20 years on the continent. 'The London Roundabout,' just published (Harrap, 10s. 6d.), is a book that one can dip into time and time again and enjoy anew the odd facts and fancies taht strike these versatile artist-authors. Who but such a couple of vagabonds could tell so wittily, and yet so kindly, of their charwoman's horror on finding that 'Our Nence,' her eldest, had been posing as a model in the nude for a young artist?

Mrs, 'Arris, mother of twelve, who had ' 'ad as good as eighteen,' predicted dire results from such indecency. When Jan and Cora assured her that it was quit…

"Jan and Cora Gordon Try Settling in London", Yorkshire Evening Post 1933

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I just came across a lengthy article about Jan and Cora Gordon's return to London, in the Yorkshire Evening Post of Monday 9th October 1933.

"Some people always seem to be having adventures, even when, outwardly, their lives are not greatly different from their neighbours. Jan and Cora Gordon are that sort of people. They have had adventures - and written about them - in several parts of Europe, and in America, too, whereby came their famous book, "Star Dust in Hollywood."

Anyone, you might say, could write entertainingly about out-of-the-way places and odd experiences, but now, in "The London Roundabout" (Harrap, 10s. 6d. net), one finds Mr. and Mrs. Gordon finding gems amid unpromising dust, writing and sketching just as entertainingly, and with just the same knack of spotting essentials, and ranging wittily from the particular to the general and back again.

Besides which, they have lived so long and so variously abroad that their occasionally candid crit…

Jan and Cora Gordon: guitars and the gentle art of tramping

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In “The Gentle Art of Tramping” (1927), Stephen Graham writes that in Spain “One is almost bound to be called upon to explain oneself to the police, and to find oneself described officially as a vagrant. Jan and Cora Gordon, two delightful vagabonds, got over the difficulty by carrying guitars, and they were understood to be itinerant musicians. In the end, because they played so well, they won over the affections of many somber Spaniards."

I have never been a real itinerant musician, but have often found that playing a musical instrument in public is a wonderful social connector no matter which country you find yourself in. I remember jazz duels and duets with Rick Centeno (a very fine vibraphone player) in Gabon (we had a lot of fun with Señor Mouse) and both classical and jazz piano in Oman. I ran the music societies in both these countries. I never got up on stage with a guitar (here's my Cuenca and the battered old Juan Salvador), but often played it in more informal se…

Jan Gordon's "Painting for Beginners" and the connection with Marion Milner

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I own several copies of Jan Gordon's "Step-ladder to Painting", including one treasured copy with the autographs of four generations of family in it. I have previously written on "The Fountain Pen" section and a discussion on capturing emotion in art.

I received today a copy of the American edition of this book, "Painting for Beginners" in its 1946 Reprint Edition.

The dedication reads:
"To DENNIS AND MARION MILNER who so enthusiastically acted as the "dogs" on whom many of these suggestions were tried."


Marion Milner (1900–1998), née Marion Blackett, was a British author and psychoanalyst. She married Dennis Milner in 1927. She published "A Life of One's Own" (1934, which contains acknowledgements to Jan and Cora Gordon), "An Experiment in Leisure" (1937), "The Human Problem in Schools" (1938), "On Not Being Able to Paint" (1950) and "The Hands of the Living God" (1969).

Marion Mi…