A colorful oil on Masonite painting (18 1/2" by 27 3/4") of a Native American mother and her child, surrounded by bright red apples and green leaves seemingly suspended in mid-air, signed at lower right center and dated there 1969 by the noted London-born artist who moved to New Mexico in 1924, DOROTHY EUGENIE BRETT (1883-1977). Brett came to be known for her somewhat primitive, often child-like paintings, and this example exhibits the intense color often associated with naive style art. Brett was born in London, England during the time of Queen Victoria, into a wealthy family with ties to royalty. She played with Queen Victoria's grandchildren. Obvious artistic talent led to Brett attending the Slade School in 1910, and she was soon painting portraits, including one of D. H. Lawrence, the novelist. During the late teens and first years of the 1920's, Brett came to be part of an exclusive artistic and literary circle, which included the likes of Mark Gertler, Clive Bell, Bertrand Russell, Virginia Woolf, Augustus John, Aldous Huxley, Gilbert Cannan, and George Bernard Shaw. It is said that when Brett saw Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in England, with its exotic American Indians, she developed an infatuation with the subject that ultimately led her to accept in 1924 D. H. Lawrence's offer to move to the Taos area. Mabel Dodge Luhan (Taos patron of the arts, socialite and mover-and-shaker of the time) had invited him there in 1923, and he returned to England very enthused by what he had seen, trying to recruit for a utopian colony to be called "Rananim". Brett was in the end the only Briton who took him up on the idea. There, she lived for a short and turbulent time with D. H. Lawrence, and Frieda Lawrence, his wife, on a ranch northwest of Taos. The Lawrences left New Mexico in 1925, (and D. H. Lawrence died in 1930) but Brett remained in Taos, moving into town, in difficult circumstances financially for a time. In order to survive in the difficult 1930's, she sold her art to the tourists. By 1938 she was an American citizen. Gradually her work came to be more complex, and appreciated by museums, and she went on in her later years to become a kind of living legend in Taos, a link to earlier days. In 1973 artist R. C. Gorman painted her portrait. Today, Brett's works are offered at auction in New Mexico, and in England, where they are still prized. The Millicent Rogers Museum and Harwood Museum in Taos, as well as the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, hold examples of her paintings in their collections. This painting is presently housed in a simple mid-century type of frame, perhaps the original; keep it in that frame of the period, or select a wider frame. A black or even dark silvery frame would set off the colors and light blue of the sky/pink of the mother's shawl. PROVENANCE: collection of novelist/short story writer/poet/playwright William Goyen (1915-1983) and actress Doris Roberts (1925-2016) (perhaps best known for her role in "Everyone Loves Raymond"), Hollywood, California. Their collection contained several works by Brett. Goyen had spent some years in Taos in the late 1940's near benefactor Frieda Lawrence, who had returned there after an extended absence.
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