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A Large Still Life Painting Of Eucalyptus By Lilian Jelly, Aka Lady 'jane' Kelly (gerald Kelly’s Wife) - Ex-sir Gerald Kelly Collection - Modern British Art By Rare Female Artist, 1950s


£1,100 | $1,533 USD | €1,282 EUR
Item Number: SA771888
Date of manufacture: 1950
Current Status: For sale
Seller: Interiors at Work
This antique has been viewed 18 times in the past month with the most views from Germany.


Lilian Jelly, a.k.a Lilian Ryan, Lady ‘Jane’ Kelly (c.1898 - c.1980)
Oil on linen: 32 x 24 ? in. (81 x 63 cm.)
Framed dimensions: 36 1/2 x 30 x 2 in. (92.7 x 76.2 x 5 cm.)
Painted circa 1954
Label verso detailing the title, artist, and owner.
> Provenance: the artist’s husband, Sir Gerald Festus Kelly (1879 - 1972), 117 Gloucester Place, London; Private collection, England.
> Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, The 186th., 1954, Gallery XI, no. 564.
> This large still life painting was conceived by an artist who, for strategic purposes, painted under the unusual pseudonym ‘Lilian Jelly’. Her husband was Sir Gerald Festus Kelly, who owned the painting, was one of the most sought after society portraitists in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century and president of the Royal Academy in London. As a result, during Kelly’s tenure as President, Lilian ‘Jane’ Ryan, as she was more commonly known, exhibited under an alias to avoid her husband being accused of cronyism.
> This large painting, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1954, displays an abundant pot of eucalyptus, showing pink flowering buds and wilting leaves. The reddish-brown backdrop is entirely plain and a light source illuminates the leaves from our right.
> The choice in painting this evergreen plant, indigenous to Australia, might well represent the Kellys’ familiarity with the exotic; some of Gerald Kelly’s most celebrated paintings were those that featured Burmese dancers. Lilian seems to have specialised in painting still lifes of flowers and kitchen items, from 'Christmas Roses' in 1944 to 'Mushrooms and Peppers' in 1960, choosing a genre distinct from her husband’s focus on portraiture.
> From a working class family, Lilian Ryan had been a choice model for Sir George Clausen in the 1910s and it was he who introduced her to Gerald Kelly in 1916. They were to marry four years later and spend over fifty happy years together; indeed, Gerald painted her portrait at least fifty times, exhibiting each year’s edition at the Royal Academy and titling them ‘Jane’ - his pet name for his beloved. Indeed her many likenesses became so recognisable that when Queen Mary was introduced to her, she exclaimed "Jane, of the many Janes!". Sir Gerald, who painted the famed likenesses of T.S. Eliot, Somerset Maugham, and the Royal Family, served as President of the Royal Academy between 1949 and 1954, the year this painting was exhibited.
> Lilian took an interest in painting for herself in the early 1940s and her husband encouraged her curiosity. Clearly, as seen in this painting, she had a natural affinity to oils and she advanced quickly enough that she exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in 1944, where her work as ‘Lilian Jelly’ - a combination of her given names ‘Lilian’, ‘Jane’, and ‘Kelly’ - was first revealed to the public. She would go on to exhibit there for thirty years, her last submission being 'Fuschias' in 1974.
> Known paintings by Lady Kelly, or rather Lilian Jelly, are very scarce; one cannot find any other example online. This, therefore, represents a rare opportunity to acquire a work by a fascinating British female artist from the mid-century.
> The painting survives in excellent condition. Rather unusually, it appears to have been painted on stretched bed linen - please see images of the verso. It is framed in a simple gilt frame, which has several losses to the front edges - see photos. Finally there is a very, very faint horizontal line in the middle of the painting, measuring approx. 15 cm., which corresponds to a small crease in the linen to the verso.
'Interiors at Work' is an interior design consultancy and dealer in Scottish Paintings, Objects & Curios.


This item is antique. The date of manufacture has been declared as 1950.


Height = 81 cm (31.9")
Width = 63 cm (24.8")
Depth = 0 cm (0.0")

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Interiors at Work
United Kingdom

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