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Edmond Xavier Kapp

(London 1890-1978)

The Glass Table, 1952

oil on canvas

with labels inscribed with the artist’s details, verso

55.5 x 43.5 cm.


with The Leicester Galleries, London (label attached to the reverse of the frame);

Stella Churchill, purchased from the above (according to the label);

Ruth Plant (1912-1988);

and by descent until 2024.

Born in Islington to German-Jewish parents, Kapp studied in Berlin, Paris and at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he held his first solo exhibition and attracted the praise of Max Beerbohm. During WWI he served in the Royal Sussex Regiment, where he sketched portraits of his fellow soldiers in the trenches, including the young poet Edmund Blunden, and fellow artist, William Rothenstein.

After the War he exhibited at the Little Art Rooms in the Adelphi, London, with the catalogue introduction provided by Beerbohm. He moved in circles with, and captured the likes of leading characters in the arts at that time, including Virginia Woolf, Edwin Elgar, Percy Wyndham Lewis, Richard Strauss, Albert Einstein, Aldous Huxley and Noël Coward.

In 1922, Kapp married Yvonne Mayer, who was a journalist, photographer, translator and writer, best known for her biography of Eleanor Marx. They settled in Rome for a year while Kapp studied at Sigmund Lepinky’s art school and under Antonio Sciortino at the British Academy, where he struck up a friendship with the American painter, Maurice Sterne, who encouraged him to paint in oil.

In 1935 he was commissioned to capture the likenesses of twenty-five delegates to the League of Nations in Geneva, and the series brought him to the attention of Picasso, who he went on to sketch at his studio in Paris, in 1938 (collection of the V&A Museum, London).

During WWII, Kapp was an official War Artist. He kept a studio at 2 Steeles Studios, Haverstock Hill in Hampstead, and in Beausoleil, near Monaco, in the Alpes Maritimes. There, he became fascinated by synaesthesia and the work of Kandinsky, becoming more abstract and colourful in his own work.

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