This week, 50 of his etchings and lithographs go on show at The Fine Art Society (FAS) in London in an exhibition from February 1-28. It is comprised of a private collection, packed with depictions of film stars, businessmen and aristocrats created between 1920-45. Works are offered from £750-26,000.
Birmingham-born Brockhurst found early success painting portraits but became interested in etching as the technique rose in popularity. Though it was predominantly used for cityscapes and landscapes among his contemporaries, he used etchings for his portraiture and figurative works, publishing his first prints in 1920.
A selection of these early pieces, such as The Mirror and Henry Rushbury, are among those on show at FAS. As a whole, the collection reflects his interest in Pre-Raphaelite and Renaissance painters, as well as the glamour photos and fashion magazines that chronicled the cultural trends of his day.
As the art world turned more and more towards abstraction, he continued to show his subjects in his precise, figurative style, paying particular attention to women’s fashion, hairstyles and make-up.
His sitters included the Duchess of Windsor, actress Marlene Dietrich and J Paul Getty, but it is his first wife, Anaïs Mélisande Folin, whose image dominates his output. She posed for dozens of works, usually named for figures from literature and mythology, such as Corinne, Aglaia or Nadia – in the FAS show, her name is used only as the title of one piece, though she is the model for many.
Eventually, the marriage ended in scandal. In 1932, he completed perhaps his most infamous etching, Adolescence, showing Royal Academy model Kathleen Woodward nude at age 15.
In 1939 when details of his affair with the model (whom he renamed ‘Dorette’) became public, he fled with her to the US. He spent the rest of his days there – still a popular portraitist.