Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cecil Kennedy

French Bouquet
year unknown
oil on canvas
51 x 64 cm
Private collection
-Fair use-

Cecil Kennedy (1905-1997), born in Leyton,  is widely regarded as the finest British painter of flowers of the 20th Century. He was born into a very large Victorian family who were all very artistic. In his work he often juxtaposes modern exotic hybrid blooms with traditional English flowers and grasses as well as plant species celebrated in the work of the Old Masters. He knew much about flowers and his use of all white flower arrangements reflected his awareness of 20th Century horticultural trends. His work is celebrated for its exquisite detail and artful composition and his paintings can be found in Royal, Corporate and Private collections throughout the world.

In the Second World War he was called up and he fought in the Eighth Army in Europe. During the winter of 1944 he was based in Antwerp and it was here that he familiarized himself with the Dutch and Flemish Old Master flower paintings at first hand. He befriended Flemish painters and this interaction brought about a definite change in his painting style and technique.

He was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Salon in 1956 and a gold medal in 1970. He had many important patrons during his life including the Duke of Windsor and the Astors. Queen Mary is quoted as saying "When I see Cecil Kennedy's pictures I can smell the flowers and hear the hum of the bees". It was she who noticed a ladybird that Kennedy had painted on the stem of a flower and he always incorporated a ladybird into his paintings thereafter. Lord Thomson was also a great admirer of Kennedy's work. His carefully delineated flower paintings have been likened to those of the Dutch 17th Century Masters in approach and devotion to detail. He has held exhibitions in London, Paris, New York and Johannesburg and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, The Royal Hibernian and the Royal Scottish Academy.