Charles Walter SimpsonResting-on The Beach At St Ives

Notes from past owners Pep and John Branfield:

"Who are the two women? Leonora Simpson, who had put the painting into auction in 1980, said she had no idea. Some twenty years later David Tovey alerted me to a painting sold at Sotheby’s of two young women leaning against a boat in St Ives harbour. They are wearing the same clothes and are named as Phyllis and Vera Cuningham. It was dated 1919.

The sisters came from a wealthy London family. Vera Cuningham was thrown out of the house at the age of sixteen by her father for consistently coming home late. She went to live with students at the Central School of Art. She is the young woman in the pink dress and is twenty-two years old. She is presumably a student of the Simpsons, Charles and his wife Ruth, who are running the St Ives School of Art and Phyllis is her chaperone. Back in London, Vera became the mistress of Matthew Smith and is the model for the blowsy nudes that made his name. They had studios in Paris where she became recognised as a painter in her own right. During and after the war she was a well-known eccentric Soho figure."