Jan Gordon: A Sketch for a Portrait

It's always fun to see the sketches made by an artist before producing a finished portrait.

I found the following sketch in the backing of a framed etching by Jan Gordon. It shows Ashley Smith (my grandfather) sitting in a chair in his London home, cross-legged, reading a book.

The chair is shown face on, with Ashley Smith swivelled to his left. Few lines are used.

In the finished portrait, Ashley is shown from his left, leaning forward to read the book, cigarette in mouth. One of the chair's clawed wooden front feet can be seen together with the chair's green upholstery. The corner of an old Persian rug is visible just in front of Ashley's well-polished shoes.

The chair in the picture still survives in the family, now upholstered in red, as it has been as far back as I can remember.

Ashley with wife Doris visited the Gordons' studio in Paris in 1922 and 1923 and Jan and Cora Gordon visited Ashley and Doris in London during 1925 where they had an exhibition at the XXI Gallery. They seem to have drifted apart during the early 1930s. For a way into the art, writings, musicianship and contemporaries of Jan and Cora Gordon see Art of Jan and Cora Gordon.


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