29 April 2010

post Spry


"One arranges flowers as the spirit moves you; to obey some inner prompting to put this colour with that, to have brilliance here, line there, a sense of opulence in this place or sparseness in that; to suit your surroundings, your mood, the weather, the occasion. In a word, to do as you please, just as, if you could, you might paint a picture."- Constance Spry

I am flying through the Surprising Life of Constance Spry, by Sue Shepard & Yes, I am surprised. A must read, You will be surprised too. and I am not giving anything away.(read my post here) I did run into Beverley Nichols. No surprise-He described the art of flower arranging as 'pre-Spry' and 'post-Spry.' saying of his friend- 'Constance has the supreme gift- which is really the core of all art and all invention- of seeing things for the first time in a new way, and seeing them whole and seeing the isolated from convention.' 

my intention in sharing a few quotes from the book have gone very much astray-but I think much more interesting because of the garden path.  When I asked to use the image of a beautiful painting Debra had in a recent post, she replied of Course. In her original post here on her blog PARIS ORIGINALS and excerpted here- (as I am trying to make this winding path one less turn) Debra writes about the painting:
' I was inspired by the flower paintings by Gluck, the butterflies of Vertes, and the paintings on foil by Jose Marie Sert. This painting is oil over white gold leaf on wood  ( a flower Icon).I finally had it framed this past month, I hung it in honor of Spring's reappearance. The frame is simple white.However; I  wish I had an original "Gluck Frame"!

Hannah Gluck- Gluck to you- painted & in 1932 when she met Constance Spry she began painting flowers. They were beautiful and Spry quickly saw the potential for using them in the homes of her noted clientele.

 blogger Debra Healy who writes the blog Paris Originals comments:
'There is such profound power and magic in Mrs. Spry's arrangements even through they are transmitted  to us through time via photography. I fell under her spell in the 1980's when I found her book Flower Decoration. She trained my eye in a new way.I was better able to look at photos of vintage interior's, and understand her Impact.'

 Gluck's Cactus Flower from Christie's here

 Debra continued:
'Gluck also fell under her spell. Gluck, never would have put the butterflies in a painting, or have painted on gold leaf. She was the Annie Proulx of painting, precise, eloquent, and almost  austere. She destroyed most of her flower paintings when her friendship with Mrs. Spry ended. Gluck tried in vain to buy the Vernon Picture back. (the Gluck calla lilies were commissioned for Lord Vernon in 1937)
I have studied her paintings for years. I love this period for its coolness.'

 Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Society it is titled
The Vernon Picture.1937,  it is in a private collection.

This book has more in store for me-as I am sure reading these additional things will benefit you-
terrific information about Constance Spry here
read about the GLUCK frame from An Aesthete's Lament here
& here
I hope your comments will keep the path open, and long winding.
I hope you read the book too.



  1. Little A.....Wonderful post. Getting the book.....Thanks for the effort..K

  2. wowza! I have some of her books that I just adore.
    she is almost unknown in europe... wonder why.

  3. I was distressed to find that the Spry biography was riddled with errors. Among them was the information that Oliver Messel's sister was named Alice and his grand-uncle was Leonard (actually his sister was Anne and his father was Leonard), et cetera, et cetera. So annoying.

  4. Just finished the Spry bio. An Aesthete's Lament is correct about many silly, easily corrected errors. Also, I taken aback by the choice to refer to her as "Connie" throughout the book. In the introduction she called her "Constance" and by the end of the intrduction, she said many people called her "Connie" and then she chose to refer to her that way. Frankly, I do not her well enough to call her "Connie."

  5. Aesthete, Lu-that is too bad about the silly errors- you would think she was writing a blog or something! Lucinda-I was reading along, and I had to stop and think at one point-now Who is Connie? The author did have a specific connection to her-can't remember, maybe she felt because of that Connie was appropriate- what the GLUCK?
    still learning lots (I knew little about her) and am absolutely terrible with names anyway. pgt

  6. Seriously, I feel as though I live under a rock!
    What beauty lies here.

  7. Wonderful pictures. I love the Debra Healy with the butterflies xx

  8. Pve, yes I dwell there as well.

    Christina-Debra is great. check out her Diamond and Rhubarb jewelry blog too. pgt



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