John Banting (1902 - 1972)

Sylph Melody


SKU: 10452
Oil on board

Height – 35.6cm
Width – 27.9cm

1 in stock


Gifted by the Artist to Alex Postan c.1965.
Storran Gallery, 1938

Banting studied with Meninsky at Westerminster School of Art in 1921 and then in Paris. In 1925 he was associated with the
Bloomsbury Group and in 1927 he exhibited with the London Group. His early work was influenced by Picasso, Braque and Gris but he quickly evolved his own repertoire of forms and subjects: plants, bones, shells and feathers, often constructed into strange anamorphic figures bearing enigmatic titles not infrequently associated with music. The composition might refer to the classic early novel by Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, The Sylph, (published anonymously in 1779) in which, desperate for a mentor to guide her through the morass of societal depravity, the heroine Julia Grenville relies on a man who, claiming to be her ‘sylph’ (anaerial being who knows her every thought and deed), sends her letters warning her against the lures of the city. Painted in 1934, and exhibited in 1938 at Storran Galleries (one of the three principal London dealers, the others being Wertheim and Cooling) this painting reverberates with Banting’s exposure to the Surrealism movement in Paris, where he met with André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti and René Crevel. It anticipates the style that Banting would showcase at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London (1936), New York (1936) and Paris (1938), and includes the amorphous, human-like shapes and disguised profile portraits that can be seen in many of his major works.


Liss Llewellyn are continually seeking to improve the quality of the information on their website. We actively undertake to post new and more accurate information on our stable of artists. We openly acknowledge the use of information from other sites including Wikipedia, and and other public domains. We are grateful for the use of this information and we openly invite any comments on how to improve the accuracy of what we have posted.


John Banting
1902 - 1972

Banting studied under Bernard Meninsky at Westminster School of Art from 1921 and later in Paris. On his return to London in 1925 he became associated with the Bloomsbury Group painters, joined the London Group, and showed with the 7 & 5 Society. At the beginning of the 1930s he returned to Paris where he met Breton, Creval, Giacometti, and Duchamp, amongst others. He designed for the Camargo Society and Ballet Pomona, and designed book jackets for Hogarth Press. In 1936 he contributed pictures to the International Surrealist Exhibition, in London. During the Spanish Civil War he traveled to Madrid, where he met Ernest Hemingway. During World War II, he was involved in Strand Films and was Art Editor of Our Time, a left-wing political monthly. After the war, he published A Blue Book of Conversation. He lived in rural Ireland for a while, then settled near his friend Edward Burra at Hastings, Sussex, where he died. Since his death, he has been included in many Surrealist exhibitions. He was given a retrospective at Oliver Bradbury and James Birch, 1983. His vision remained remarkably consistent throughout his life.


John Banting (1902 - 1972)
Sylph Melody