Description & Technical information

John Minton’s portrait studies in pencil - ‘superb examples at their best of unforced draughtsmanship’, in the words of one friend and critic - are among the finest of his drawings. A pen and ink study of a similar subject, depicting Minton’s friend and lover Kevin Maybury asleep, was sold at auction in London in 2011, while another drawing of the same sitter, also asleep, was in the John Constable collection and recently appeared on the London art market. The intimacy evident in the present sheet suggests that it may likewise depict Maybury, whom Minton met when he was designing stage sets at the Royal Court Theatre in the summer of 1956. An Australian carpenter, Maybury worked in the scenery department at the theatre, and eventually moved in with Minton at his home in Apollo Place in Chelsea. As Minton’s biographer has written, ‘[Maybury] seemed rather amazed to be taken up by this famous painter who drew him into a more exciting social world than he had previously experienced. To some of Minton’s friends it seemed that Kevin was his white hope, the person who was going to keep him off the bottle…The presbyterian streak in Kevin Maybury’s nature aroused in Minton bemused affection.’ Minton made several late drawings of Maybury, as well as a finished portrait in oils, which is now in the Tate. It was Kevin Maybury who discovered the artist’s body after his suicide, having taken an overdose of the barbiturate Tuinal.

Medium: Pencil on buff paper
Dimensions: 28.3 x 38.4 cm (11¹/₈ x 15¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: New Grafton Gallery, London, in 1973
Colin Clark, London
Thence by descent.
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints