13 February 2011

Daphne Maugham Casorati: White Roses

How strange these white roses are, their curving petals and leaves and pleasingly rounded glass vase  set against a background of lines and squares reminiscent of Mondrian.  And how much bravura it takes to make a white image from shades of lavender blue.
Daphne Maugham (1897-1982) , later Casorati, was an established artist when she married Felice Casorati.  Even so, her work has suffered from the informal 'one to a family' rule for creative couples that has operated to the disadvantage of women.  Contemporaries commented that she was quiet and often overshadowed in Casorati's circle.









Although English, Daphne Maugham was born while her father Charles Maugham was there on diplomatic assignment, probably in Paris.  Several family members distinguished themselves in diplomacy and the arts, most notably Daphne's uncle, the writer W. Somerset Maugham.





Perhaps her self-assurance can be attributed to her cosmopolitan background, but it took some pluck for a seventeen year-old to enroll at the Academie Ranson, where she studied  with Nabis Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis.  Her Paris years 1914-1921 also included study at the Atelier of cubist Andre Lhote from 1918-1921.  She exhibited work at galerie Druet and at the 1921 Salon d'Automne.  She credited Denis for encouraging her  to develop a spiritual dimension in her work.  Whether or not from Lhote's influence, Maugham's work is always inventive in rearranging the traditional picture plane.


Daphne Maugham traveled to Italy cicra 1925 with her sister Cynthia, a dancer at the Teatro Gualino in Turin.  Through her sister's theatrical connections, Daphne  met Felice Casorati, whom she married in 1931.  She made  the first of dozens of presentations at the Venice Biennale of 1928, a showcase where she would receive numerous prizes throughout her career.  The couple had a son Francesco in 1934, but Maugham was soon back at work in her studio.  Her portraits were much admired, notably her portrait of her friend and fellow painter Nella Marchesini (1901-1953).
I find her tactile use of color appealing, its unforced naturalness gives little hint of the mastery it required.  



Images: works by Daphne Maugham Casorati (White Roses, The Breakfast, Toys, and untitled still life) are from Galeria Dell' Incisione, Brescia.

4 comments:

Neil said...

Fascinating glimpse into the life of an artist I wasn't aware of. I feel the quiet glimpses into intimate situations are rather like her uncle's stories.

Jane said...

I like your idea. Maybe someone will suggest some match-ups!

david said...

thanks for this great post... another little known painter... very exciting

Jane said...

David, I'm happy that you like her work, too.