Molti Ritratti: Dame Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), poet, critic, female component of a trio of artsy siblings well connected to the English upper crust, did not escape the portrait painter's brush as can be seen below. Her Wikipedia entry is here.

Sitwell's depictions are of interest because several of the artists were her friends -- especially Pavel Tchelitchev (transliterations of his name from the Russian vary). Of more interest is that these artists were modernists of one stripe or another in a period where all artists were trying to figure what to do with modernism in the wake of that decade or so of all those "isms" cascading down from (mostly) Paris. Adding to the complexity of the situation, they were painting portraits -- meaning that the results had to relate in a least some small manner to their purported subject.


Photo of Sitwell

By Roger Fry
As best I can tell from citations, both the portraits by Fry were painted 1918 or thereabouts. Fry was an art critic and theoretician (popularizing the term "Post-Impressionism") who also did portraits and some other works.

By Alvaro Guevara, c. 1919

By Pavel Tchelitchev - c. 1930
Tchelitchev is best known as a Surrealist, but that movement was still more literary and political than painting-oriented when Sitwell sat for this work.

By Windham Lewis
Lewis was England's best-known modernist portrait artist when this was painted (begin in 1923 but not "completed" -- her hands were never added -- until 1935).

By Pavel Tchelitchev - 1935
According to the link above, Sitwell was quite taken with Tchelitchev even though their approaches to sex probably destined the relationship to be on the Platonic side. Neither Tchelitchev portrait shown here (as well as others) depicts Sitwell in a remotely flattering light. But she apparently didn't mind. The image above seems to be a scan from a book.

By Feliks Topolski
This portrait is an exception in that it was made decades later than the others and when Abstract Expressionism was the flavor of the day.