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Weekly Obsession: Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

Jeunesse doré, 1934 by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890 - 1978) Collection: National Museum Liverpool ©Richard Woodward

Jeunesse doré, 1934

by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890 - 1978)

Collection: National Museum Liverpool

©Richard Woodward

Gerald Brockhurst was a British artist perhaps best remembered for his glamorous portraits of high society ladies such as Marlene Dietrich and Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. However, a large number of his paintings and etchings are of the women in his life - both his first wife Anais and his second, Kathleen Woodward, whom he renamed "Dorette" (pictured above).

Brockhurst's style was very influenced by the works of 15th century painters such as Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, but the expressive, psychological power of his portraits are pure 20th century.  The gazes of these women are full of intensity, whether it is projected outward at the viewer, or inward, as if the sitter is locked in a private reverie. Combined with moody, romantic landscapes in the background, these paintings pack an emotional wallop.

Jeunesse doré is one of my favorite works. Not only because of the way Dorette staunchly emerges from the grey background of the landscape and clothing by the force of her personality, but I also love the contrasting softness that resides in her face. Brockhurst has captured a the complexity of a real person here, and it feels like we are looking at Dorette on her own terms.