T03223 ANNONCIADE 1961–77
Inscribed ‘JVL’ (a monogram), bottom left
Oil on canvas, 40 3/8 × 50 1/8 (102.2 × 127.7)
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1981
Prov: Purchased from the artist by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1977
Exh: RA, May–August 1977 (425); Pictures for an Exhibition, Whitechapel Art Gallery, March–May 1980 (25, dated 1977)
In response to questions, the artist sent the following account of this work on 13 February 1983.
'I think I entered for the Rome Scholarship in the winter of 1960 and the subject set was for a composition, “Night and Day”, to be 40" × 50". I did two, both were of a black and a white girl sitting on a couch. The one I submitted was shown at the Beaux Arts [Gallery, at his one-man exhibition] in 1965 -it was no.2 in the catalogue - after which I gave it to friends who still have it. These were painted at 6a Meyrick Road, Battersea - since demolished. A small painting of an armchair and the couch from the same point of view done at that time is in the possession of another friend. The couch was bought further down Meyrick Road for 10/- in 1958 or 9.
'I went on with the other, unsubmitted, painting when I came back to England in 1963 or 4, in my mother's house in Camberwell, keeping the couch but putting my wife Paule where the black girl had been and my infant son in place of the lower half of the other figure and changing from the Battersea window to the Camberwell one. In this state it was shown in the same exhibition as the other one: it was called “Paule and Remi III” and was no.8 in the catalogue.
'In the Autumn of 1965 I took it to my new home in Peckham. I worked on it intermittently for several years but was never satisfied - there must have been a break in the early seventies; I forget exactly when. During all this time the couch was seen in front of the window in the back room in Camberwell, but in 1975 or 6 I moved the couch further back on the left, took out the figure of the child, introduced a desk I had inherited in about 1971 from my cousin Catherine Powell, and changed the window to that of the studio in Peckham with the view as it then was. The garage in front has since been knocked down. The houses beyond are in Bellenden Road.
'The painting was done from drawings made over the years so the scene has no single date. I see it as a sort of cumulative portrait, though not a great likeness, of my wife one of whose Christian names Annonciade I took as being an apt title since she was expecting a child while I was finishing the picture and happened to be dressed in blue like a Madonna. It isn't a traditional Annunciation and is not related to any other painting old or new by me or anyone else, except that of the couch, or to any military or religious order.
'No other picture has ever been so difficult to get going or taken so long. It was always my greatest ambition to be a compositional painter and, although this one is of modest scale and simple content and, as I said, a portrait I always thought of it as a composition’.
The monogram with which this picture, like many others, is signed, is the artist's initials J.V.L., the initials J.L. already being associated with his grandfather, the painter Jules Lessore.
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984