The Old Maids, Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington was the rebellious daughter of a Lancashire textile manufacturer. Her family authorised electroconvulsive therapy following the breakdown she suffered when her then partner, Surrealist painter Max Ernst, was arrested by the Gestapo in wartime France. She took refuge in the Mexican embassy in Lisbon and then in Mexico itself.
Having spent her childhood on a country estate, surrounded by animals and reading fairy tales, Carrington revisited these memories after adult trauma. She created Surrealistic paintings populated with figures and creatures real, imagined and inspired by Celtic mythology, alchemy and magic.
But she declined to discuss specific motivation for her arresting paintings, saying only that she painted this strange tea party, and a second oil in the Sainsbury collection, while pregnant.
Facts & figures
The Old Maids, 1947, Leonora Carrington (1917-2011). Mexico. Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection. UEA 27.
Oil. 58.4 x 73.7 cm. Acquired 1972.
Other collection highlights
Mother and Child, Henry Moore
When Robert Sainsbury bought this piece in 1933, by his own account, almost nobody liked it
Head of a Woman (Anna Zborowska), Amedeo Modigliani
Modigliani pushes his subject to the verge of abstraction, finds Margaret Howell