Sir Gerald Kelly

Alex and Demary Dancing in a Music Hall at Algiers


Not on display

Sir Gerald Kelly 1879–1972
Oil paint on wood
Support: 148 × 180 mm
displayed: 300 × 330 × 50 mm
Presented anonymously in memory of Sir Terence Rattigan 1983

Display caption

In March 1906 Kelly visited North Africa with his friend the novelist Somerset Maugham. He painted this sketch during a performance in a music hall in Algiers.

Gallery label, May 1996

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Catalogue entry

T03651 Alex and Demary Dancing in a Music Hall at Algiers 1906

Oil on panel 5 5/8 × 7 (148 × 180)
Inscribed ‘Kelly’ b.l. and on reverse ‘Alex & Demary dancing in a Music hall/At Alger at Alg/1 March 1906’
Presented anonymously in memory of Terence Rattigan 1983
Prov: ...; Galerie Wenning; Roland, Browse and Delbanco March 1967; the donor November 1967
Exh: Sir Gerald Kelly K.C.V.O., P.P.R.A., Royal Academy of Arts, Diploma Gallery, October–December 1957 (107); Christmas Present Exhibition, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, November–December 1967 (80)

The donor, after purchasing this panel, took it to Sir Gerald Kelly who recalled, on seeing it again, that he had visited the music hall in Algiers in the company of his great friend Somerset Maugham. Kelly also remembered that the panel was painted in the music hall during the performance and that Maugham was seated in the audience, although he is not actually distinguishable. Nothing further is known about the name of the music hall nor about the performers on stage.

Kelly first met Somerset Maugham in autumn 1903 and they remained firm friends for the next sixty years. Kelly had moved to Paris in 1901 and early in 1905 he found Maugham an apartment close to his own studio in Montparnasse. Kelly's movements for early 1906 are not well documented whereas Maugham's are. He is recorded as travelling for the first three months of 1906 in Greece and Egypt. In January he was in Alexandria having taken a boat from Venice to Port Said. Later he spent a month in Cairo and was back in London in April. Kelly equally was back in Paris in April 1906 because he painted a scene of the Luxembourg Gardens and dated it April 1906. Three other paintings of Algerian scenes by Kelly exist, one entitled ‘Algiers: Evening’ is dated 4 March 1906, and these were shown in a Sir Gerald Kelly exhibition organised by the Fine Art Society, December 1975–January 1976 (7, 10, 11). Possibly Maugham persuaded Kelly to join him on the North African Coast.

Kelly painted the first of his eighteen portraits of Maugham in 1907, and the Tate Gallery owns one painted in London in July 1911 - N04703 ‘The Jester (W. Somerset Maugham)’.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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