Privately Held

Valentine Dobree (1894 - 1974)

Black Gloves, c.1930

SKU: 8496
Signed, titled to reverse. Mixed media, collage

Height – 26cm
Width – 16.3cm


Private Collection
Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.320.

She has given so much of herself to the world, lived so fiercely it

is splendid… So wrote fellow artist Dora Carrington of her friend

Valentine Dobrée, the beautiful, aristocratic yet volatile daughter of an

English diplomat who lived her life variously as novelist, poet and artist.

She was perhaps best known for her book Your Cuckoo Sings by Kind,

published in 1927 and celebrated at the time for its bold treatment of

sexuality, yet since the early 1920s had been producing (and exhibiting)

artworks in differing styles created with a self-conscious knowledge

of recent avant-garde movements and ideas. One such example is this

work Black Gloves, a curious collage that hovers between figuration and

abstraction and which both reveals and conceals.

Blocks of pattern form the background to the central section which

resembles a fragmented figure out of which radiate numerous thin white

lines. There is an energy to this figure. The folded arms of the gloves,

the profile of the head outlined in black seem to tell us more than the

decorative. Was this intended to be Dobrée’s veiled self-portrait ‚Äì an

image with which she wished to declare: Here I am, liberated, sexualised

and in control‚ one might wonder, as Dobrée enjoyed a lively love

life at a time when relationships among the bohemia were fluid. Married

in 1913 to the well-connected Bonamy Dobrée, she also had affairs

with painter Mark Gertler, the Bloomsburyite Ralph Partridge and with

the solider poet Richard Adlington. Lytton Strachey noticed that she

was‚ perhaps a Saph…much attracted to [Dora Carrington]. Dora,

for her part, was deeply fond of Dobrée, admire the ways she has no

preconceived conception of how a woman and an artist should live…

Commentary by Simon Grant, Editor of Tate Etc magazine, Co-Editor of Picpus magazine and also curates exhibitions, most recently Paul Nash at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh, Arles.

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Dobree, Valentine

1894 – 1974

Valentine DobrŽe (nŽe Gladys May Mabel Brooke-Pechell)
emigrated to England from India at the age of three. Despite brief
tutelage from AndrŽ Derain (1880Ð 1954) being her only formal
art education, she enjoyed a successful career as an artist, novelist
and poet. 

She married in 1913 and moved with her husband to
Florence, returning to England at the beginning of the war where
she lived a bohemian existence Ð becoming associated with the
Bloomsbury group and conducting an affair with Mark Gertler. 

DobrŽe showed with the LG in 1920 and at the Salon des
IndŽpendants between 1921 and 1925, while living in the French
Pyrenees with her husband. In 1926 they moved to Cairo,
returning to England in 1929 when her book The EmperorÕs
was published. She held her first solo show at the Claridge
Gallery in 1931, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts staged
an exhibition of her collages in 1963. The Stanley and Audrey
Burton Gallery, Leeds, held a retrospective exhibition in 2000.


Valentine Dobree (1894 - 1974)
The Event. (Tryptich), early 1960s
Valentine Dobree (1894 - 1974)
Black Gloves, c.1930