GERALD LESLIE BROCKHURST
Gerald Brockhurst first studied at Birmingham Art School where training followed the Pre-Raphaelite tradition, and where great emphasis was placed upon sound craftsmanship. He continued at the Royal Academy Schools in London, which he entered in 1907, and where he won the Gold Medal and Travelling Scholarship, which enabled him to visit Paris and Milan. It was on these travels that he was inspired by the work of Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. He was married in 1914 to Anaïs Folin, who sat for many of his early works of portraiture. The couple lived in Ireland, where Brockhurst was influenced by the work of Augustus John. Brockhurst held his first solo exhibition in 1919 in London. He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1923, and was elected ARA in 1928 and RA in 1937.
During the 1920’s Brockhurst became renowned for his etchings, almost exclusively of women, some of which recall the great Pre-Raphaelite Rossetti. He moved on to portraiture in oils, creating a great sensation with his Jeunesse Doree, now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. From this time on Brockhurst was much in demand and was able to specialize in painting the rich and famous. Paul Getty was amongst his sitters, but he was especially drawn to women, and he evolved a technique admirably suited to capturing the chic and sophisticated glamour of the 1930’s.
His sitters were often already acclaimed, usually women who were famous for their style and fashion as well as beauty. They included the Duchess of Windsor, the actresses Merle Oberon, and Marlene Dietrich, as well as members of high society like Margaret, Duchess of Argyll and Lady Dovedale. Following all this success, Brockhurst rapidly became something of a society figure himself. He also enjoyed depicting his second wife, Dorette Woodard, whom he married in 1940. It was around this time that Brockhurst moved to the United States, and continued to receive commissions. He died in 1978 at his home in New Jersey.