Framed Dimensions:54 x 48.5 cm. (21 1/4 x 19 1/8 in.)
Provenance:Fine Art Society, Diverse Paintings by Gluck, November 1932, no. 20;
With Anthony Mould in 1982;
Private Collection, United Kingdom.
Diana Souhani, Gluck Her Biography, London 1988, p.73;
Gluck Art and Identity, ed. Amy de la Haye and Martin Pel, (exhibition catalogue), Yale University Press, 2017, p. 107, ill.</p
Fine Art Society, Diverse Paintings by Gluck, November 1932, no. 20;
Gluck Art and Identity, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, UK, 18 November 2017 to 11 March 2018</p
Further information:Sybil Cookson and Gluck (1928-1932)
Georgie Cookson was the daughter of Sybil Cookson (1890-1963), one of Gluck's lovers, who wrote under the pseudonym of Sydney Tremaine. At nineteen Sybil ran away from home to write. She produced three novels, The Auction Mart , The Broken Sign-post  and Eve. The first two were best sellers, the third was less successful.
In 1913 she married Roger Cookson, a racing driver with the Bentley team, but after World War I she ran away again, this time from her husband, taking her two daughters with her. She was a creature of the 1920s who had lots of love affairs. In 1928 Cookson moved with her two young daughters into Bolton House, Windmill Hill, a red-brick Georgian building on three floors in Hampstead village where Gluck lived. They had been introduced by their mutual friend Arthur Watt, an illustrator and artist. Cookson worked as a journalist for The Tatler and wrote a monthly article called "Nights Out". From there she left to edit the weekly Eve: The Lady's Pictorial and was the film critic, fashion editor and beauty specialist. She covered Gluck's 1926 exhibition 'Stage and Country' in the magazine and considered her a genius and wanted to help her. She enjoyed being seen with the artist with whom she made a striking couple.
Their relationship introduced Gluck into high society as Sybil went to all the openings and grand parties. She took over the management of Bolton House where they threw lots of parties, including for Georgie and her sister in the school holidays, the children on the ground floor, the adults on the first. In the summer they visited Gluck's home in Lamorna in Cornwall where the girls slept in a caravan in the garden.
This portrait of Georgie Cookson with a direct gaze, wearing furs and a jaunty black beret, is typical of the portraits Gluck painted at this period. Her portraits of sophisticated women, many of whom were lesbians, in feathered hats, polka dot scarves and furs, often smoking or gazing defiantly at the viewer, are deemed to be amongst her finest work.
Gluck also painted Georgie in Lamorna in 1931 wearing a peaked felt cap as 'Gamine'. It was done as a surprise for Sybil who did not care for the painting, and it was sold in Gluck's 1932 exhibition at the Fine Art Society (no. 20). Gluck was also commissioned to paint his portrait by Georgie's great-grandfather the eminent psychiatrist Sir James Crichton-Browne, who much admired her work and frequently visited Bolton House.
With Sybil, Gluck attended boxing matches and dance shows at the London Pavilion and the Trocadero: intrigued by the artificiality of performance, she made works such as the dramatic Baldock vs Bell at the Royal Albert Hall (1927). They also attended the courtroom together, as Sybil covered famous trials for a journal and Gluck painted two legal controversies of the late twenties. Sybil moved out of Bolton House shortly before Gluck's 1932 exhibition at the Fine Art Society. She surprised her lover 'in the wood shavings' of her studio with Annette Mills, the designer of children's shows. Sybil and her daughters moved to Knightsbridge. During World War II she returned to Roger Cookson, much to his surprise, and stayed with him until her death in 1963.
The 1932 exhibition at the Fine Art Society
Gluck designed the room at the gallery for her show. The walls were panelled in white with stepped bays and pilasters which echoed the stepped design of her frames and modern furniture was added. All of the paintings were hung in the Gluck frame. Constance Spry, Gluck's lover from January 1932, decorated the galleries and each room featured one of Spry's floral arrangements. Many of the subjects of the show reflected her time with Sybil however, including a portrait of her father and two of Georgie, the present work and 'Gamine', as well as 'The Rouse Trial' reflecting the courtroom dramas about which she wrote.
The show received glowing reviews and a huge amount of publicity. The Fine Art Society extended the run for a month and all the pictures were sold.
The Gluck Frame
Gluck designed the Gluck frame in 1932, a stepped three-tiered design in which all of her paintings were subsequently presented. It was conceived to blend into modern interiors as she felt gold carved frames were anachronistic in modern settings and disliked many modern frames. The present frame is unusual in that it is not painted white, but in the 1932 catalogue text it is made clear that Gluck intended that her frame could became part of any wall, whatever its 'character, colour of period' (Biographical Notes, Fine Art Society catalogue).
'One day feeling quite despairing, I took a lump of plasticine and started trying to make something very simple which, if possible, could be part of any wall on which it might be placed, and in doing this I suddenly realized that what has now become the Gluck frame was the only solution. This consisted of steps imitating the costly panelled effect for setting pictures in a wall, but steps of such a character that the usual essence of all frames was reversed and instead of the outer edge dominating, it was made to die away in the wall and cease to be a separate feature',
Quoted in D. Souhami, Gluck, p. 103 ('Notes on the Gluck Frame', undated).
Georgie Cookson became an actress and had a career in theatre, television and films which spanned 52 years. Her best-known theatre role was on Broadway when she played Lady India in Christopher Fry's Ring Round the Moon, in which she danced the tango - which stopped the show on the first night. Her other theatre roles included the famous review Rise Above It which started its run during the Blitz and continued for two years. She also had roles in The Water Gypsies, I Capture the Castle, Full House (with Terry Thomas), Six Months Grace and My Fair Lady.
Over the many years she worked in television, she appeared in, amongst others, series by Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, Rudyard Kipling, and the 60's series The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan which became a cult and developed a worldwide fan base. She starred with most of the famous British comics - Sid James, Tony Hancock, Derek Nimmo, Jimmy Edwards, Harry Worth, and also appeared in Steptoe and Son as Joanna Lumley's mother.
Cookson's films included Darling with Julie Christie, and the title role in The Woman Who Wouldn't Die with Gary Merrill, shot just after his divorce from Bette Davis.
She returned to the theatre in 1988 in My Fair Lady and in 1990 made her final appearance as the lead in the comedy, A Breath of Spring.
Georgie Cookson was married four times, her third husband, Derek Mitchell was her companion for twenty years until his death in 1988.
Full catalogue available, please enquire.