Oil on Canvas
59 x 53.5cm
Verso: Label One: "Portrait of Sebastian Everard" by Ruth Everard. Property of Eleanora Everard Haden Leigh.
Label Two: The Everard Collection Property of Leonora Everard Haden.
Exhibited: Johannesburg. Everard Read Gallery. 2006. The Everard Group: Then & Now.
Johannesburg. Graham’s Fine Art Gallery. 29 May – 29 August 2008. “The Modern Palimpsest: Envisioning South African Modernity”.
Illustrated: The Everard Group: Then & Now catalogue p.23
Graham’s Fine Art Gallery. 2008. The Modern Palimpsest: Envisioning South African Modernity. Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg. p. 116 & 117
Ruth Everard-Haden, her mother Bertha Everard, sister Rosamund Everard King and niece Edith King together make up the remarkable and closely-knit family of women painters who became known as the Everard Group. In her seminal publication Women and Art in South Africa (1996:56), Marion Arnold points out that their individual and collective contribution to South African art is made all the more significant by the unavoidable difficulties which they faced, not only as women artists having to negotiate commitments both to their families and to art, but also simply as artists experimenting with innovative ideas in a predominantly conservative artistic environment. Even more remarkable is the fact that a large part of their artistic output was produced after their return from Europe in the late 1920s, when they settled on the family farms Lekkerdraai and Bonnefoi in the then Eastern Transvaal, living relatively isolated lives removed from artistic centres.
In 1922, Bertha took both her daughters to Europe where Everard-Haden trained first at the Slade School in London, thereafter in Paris at the Colarossi Art School and also in the studio of André Lhote. Although stylistic influences between these artists and family members cannot be discounted completely, each developed her own personal style, informed by modernist principles and trends which they encountered in Europe (Everard- Haden returned to South Africa in 1928).
Everard-Haden’s work, more so than the others, shows evidence of a specific French influence. In this intimate portrait of Sebastian Everard, her brother and manager of the family farms, an acknowledgement of the influence of artists like Cézanne and Matisse is clear. The cropped, simplified composition, and the elimination of superfluous detail, except for the slight patterning on the wallpaper (reminiscent again of Matisse), focuses attention on the sitter and on the luminosity of his features. Modelling by means of flat patches of colour, as well as the strong contrast between the light of the shirt and the dark of the jacket, further places the emphasis on the two-dimensional pictorial structure of the work. The strength of this work lies in the boldness of Everard- Haden’s handling and application of the medium itself.
by Karin Preller
Bibliography: Arnold, M. 1996. Women and Art in South Africa. Cape Town and Johannesburg: David Philip.