When I was living in London I met some really interesting people; as one does . Over the next two sundays I'm going to highlight a couple of them. Neither is particularly well known, so this is not a 'name dropping' exercise, but both were painters and both left their indelible marks.
I can't remember quite how I met portrait painter/writer Ms Leighton, other than we were close neighbours in Chelsea. Sara (quite naturally dwarling) had a beautiful house and studio in fashionable Glebe Place, whilst the penniless Cro lived in an oversized broom cupboard in Bramerton Street; the next street up.
It was probably in 1965 or 6 when, completely out of the blue, she asked me if I would go to Archie Nathan's (the London theatrical costumier) to pick up a suit of armour. She was painting the portrait of a well-known actress (can't remember which one), who was playing St Joan in The West End, and she needed the armour 'pronto'.
Sara wasn't the sort of woman to whom one would refuse a request. She was beautiful and statuesque, and her Maureen O'Hara style red hair demanded to be taken very seriously!
The suit of armour was waiting for me when I got to Nathan's. I stuffed it into the taxi, and a short while later delivered it to her studio where I spent another hour or so setting it up in the right pose; complete with waving tricolore flag.
By way of a thank you, Sara invited me to dinner at a local restaurant (235; remember it?). She arrived just a short while after me, wearing a pale beige, detective style, trench coat. When I asked if I could take it for her, I was a little surprised when she replied that I'd better not, as she had absolutely nothing on underneath. Ahem...
The last I heard of Sara was that she'd bought some huge old monastry in Tuscany that she was running as an artists colony/hotel. I suppose she'd be in her 70's now (very indescreet Cro!) and is no doubt still causing a rumpus somewhere in Italy. She was quite a lass.
Goddamm. - I met a similar looking guy on Saturday night who I had a lovely long chat with Unfortunately just found out that he is straight Bloody hell lol, What...
4 hours ago
Well she's absolutely gorgeous, and I am curious if you two ever . . . Okay, you don't have to tell me. I'll just assume you two did, but it's none of my business, no sir.ReplyDelete
She must have been very eccentric lol I can imagine that when she made the comment about the trench coat a young Cro would have been wishing he had one on!knowing what young men are like! And Amy it make one ponder on the outcome after delivery of armour but we may well have to die wondering as a gentleman never tells lol(does he?)CaroleReplyDelete
I had one of those pale, detective style trench coats in the 70s. Hmm. Never thought of wearing it Sara style.ReplyDelete
She looks just like the models from the 60's. Do you remember Jean Shrimpton? They were so classy. By the way-drop by my blog to see what we did with the river. It was too big of job for us to shovel it all.ReplyDelete
I remember the Shrimpton sisters very well; they were very much a part of that 60's Chelsea scene. I always thought that Chrissy was the more attractive; she was certainly the nicest!ReplyDelete
Sara now lives in Australia and has a studio there.ReplyDelete
Sara is my mother and yes she was and still is beautiful and eccentric! I was small when all of this happened but I have heard some of her escapades were risque. She always liked to not so much shock as be a touch burlesque. Celleli, the monastary in Tuscany fell through due to its age and a lack of forethought. A commune for artists and writers.. I mean.. Who was gonna pay the rent???? Sara is one of the few of that generation left and she has lost none of her style it`s a great pity they don`t make `em like that anymore! Regard Cro and I love you Mama. D. XXXXReplyDelete
Are you really her daughter? Do you know if she ever painted Red Skelton? I have a painting that is signed by her dated in 1966.Delete
Hi, I'm hoping you receive this and are able to reply. I was close to your mother when she lived in Bahrain and also knew your Grandmother. She also painted my portrait and gave me a print of the Queen Mum's one. I would love to contact her again if possible and if you could, tell her that Tony from Bahrain is asking after her :-D thank you so much. I am now living in Dubai.Delete
sara Leighton , please can you get in touch, my dad knew your mum very well, and also wrote about him in her book, his name is bryan, please can you give me an email address so that I can get in touch
Wow I cant believe I came across this posting. My mother was somewhat older than Sara but for a while the two were friends. I remember being taken to her house for a play date with her daughter Ashley. I was about seven years old. We played doctor and nurse!!! Both Sara and my mother were stunning redheads.ReplyDelete
I have a Sara Leighton paingint I've been trying to sell but every art dealer I've contacted seems to not know who she is. By reading the Wikipedia article you would have thought that she would have been well known in the art community. Anybody know anything about her work?ReplyDelete
James. I think she was a painter of the same ilk as myself. She was commissioned to paint portraits, and the finished product ended up on a private wall; there was no gallery involved. I quite expect all her works simply stayed with the families. Only painters who are linked to galleries become well known.Delete
As for your painting of R S, I can't think why anyone should fake her signature; it should be right. I would try Sotherby's.
On reflection, I think your best bet would be to try to contact R S's family (if he has any). I'm sure they would want that portrait.Delete
Cro, I contacted Sotheby's and several other art dealers. The people I spoke to have never heard of her which I found suprising if she did do so many famous portraits.Delete
I will look into the family, thanks for the suggestion.
I was a young actor in Rep, Durban 1954.ReplyDelete
The leading lady diva was a Sara Lorimer...older than me (my first professional job, at fifteen shillings a performance) but she was stunningly beautiful - and quite the most intensley self involved woman I had ever met.
This morning I finished a portrait- using pastel oils- based on a giclee experiment I have conducting with a digital photograph and a brilliant Indian technician in New Delhi.
It is so extraordnairly reminiscent of Pietro Annigoni, that I rushed to review his work on Google.
I recalled that same actress had mrphed into Sara Leighton and become his student/ ..I followed her to your blog.
As an actress she was mediocre at best, and her later success as a society painter surprised me- but following David Hockneys revelations on the convex lens I am convinced the secrets he gave her were more on how to use a Rolliflex camera than to paint, she already knew what to wear under a mac!
I am going to read your blog regularly..I think we have more nexi to come.
I am Sara Leighton’s Daughter, Ashley. I have read the posts here with much interest and thought I would put down some of the things that sadden me. A lot has been written about my mother on-line and some people have rewritten history some people don’t know the truth and some people just lie. My mother has worked incredibly hard all her life. She knew she wanted to be a painter since she was four years old and despite being put into drama school and having to be a child actress she continued that quest. She was lucky enough to meet Pietro Annigoni who saw enough potential in her work to ask her to come to Florence and be his pupil. If any one thinks that Annigoni or my mother used a camera to do their amazing works then they know nothing about art.ReplyDelete
I also find it sad and rather revealing that the person who wrote the vicious post above obviously did not know my mother very well and it saddens me that this person has been given a voice in this column. I take great offence at my mother being called a self obsessed diva, as she is the most down to earth person you could meet and at age 18 wouldn’t have had the clout to be a diva even if she had wanted to. Why is it that if a woman is beautiful she can’t be smart or talented and she must have loose morals? I have known this woman all my life and she is a warm, caring, intelligent and talented person. I would check your facts before you post and don’t think hiding behind anonymity will let you say what you want about who you want.
Take no notice Portia. Your Mum was not only a very talented painter, she was also a lovely person.Delete
I am so excited now having just found Sara's Blue unicorn dreamscape in oil, in my collection, reading about her here brings the painting more to life and in context. Love TimReplyDelete