John Cecil Stephenson (1889-1965):
Framed (ref: 10573)
Tempera on board
32 x 24 in. (81.3 x 61 cm)
Provenance: The artist, and by descent. Their sale; Phillips, London, 17 November 1998, lot 83. Peter Nahum. with Galeria Milano, Milan. His sale; Christie's, London, 15 November 2006, lot 290. 2007-2020: Private Collection
Exhibited: London, Drian Gallery, 22 November 23 December 1966, no 22: London, Fischer Fine Art, Cecil Stephenson 1889-1965, October - November 1976, no. 16, as 'Painting'. London, Fine Art Society, John Cecil Stephenson, October - November 2007, no. 14.
Literature: John, Cecil Stephenson, Simon Guthrie, 1997; John Cecil Stephenson, The Fine Art Society in association with Paul Liss, catalogue number 14; John Cecil Stephenson - Pioneer of Modernism, Conor Mullan, DLI Museum and Art Gallery, 2012.
Clarabella is one of three variants for Stephenson's large mural commissioned by the Industry Building at the Festival of Britain. The exhibition was entitled Sixty paintings for 51. Works submitted were to be a minimum of 45 x 60 in. The oldest artist asked was W G Gillies (73 at the time), the youngest Lucian Freud (29). Other artists selected included John Armstrong, Edward Burra, Ivon Hitchens, L S Lowry, John Minton, William Scott, Keith Vaughan, Carel Weight and Rodrigo Moynihan.
Stephenson's finished mural was to employ luminous paints, newly developed by G.E.C. Industries. Although the commission was not always trouble-free, it was an opportunity for the artist's work to be seen on a large scale and by a huge audience. The other variants that Stephenson produced are Divertimento (Private Collection) and Painting: Design for the Festival of Britain, which is now part of the Government Art Collection (image below).
An image of Stephenson painting the finished mural for the composition.