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
A mysterious chubby figure from ancient Mexico thought to be associated with the central highland site of Las Bocas
Mayan eccentric flint
A remarkable example of a Mayan knapped flint that reveals eight separate faces in profile, thought to have come from present-day Guatemala
Standing Woman, Alberto Giacometti
Visiting Giacometti’s studio in Paris in 1959, Robert and Lisa Sainsbury saw and greatly admired the plaster for this work