The leafy green in question lends its name to its creator, the ‘cabbage lady’ or Lady Anne Gordon, Dowager Marchioness of Aberdeen (1924-2007), who was known for her depictions of the natural world. She modelled her creations by hand and started gaining popularity and numerous commissions in the 1960s.
The Cabbage Lady: The Whimsical Works of Anne Gordon Marchioness of Aberdeen runs in the St James’s gallery from May 10-27.
Her designs were championed by the Scottish-born interior designer Jean Monro, who ran a shop in London’s Knightsbridge and held annual sell-out exhibitions of her work. Collectors included Winston Churchill – who owned a pair of her doves – Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and Ava Gardner.
Historically Lady Anne has had little work appear on the secondary market. A collection sold by Duke’s of Dorset in October 2020 was among the first offered at a regional saleroom, but she has a substantial following in both the UK and the US, and her pieces also come up at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
Last year, a pair of her stoneware hoopoes starred at Stride & Son in Chichester where they were knocked down for £1450 over a high estimate of £120.
For dealer Mark Law from Albert Amor, which specialises in 18th century English porcelain, the exhibition is something of a departure. He writes in the catalogue forward: “I would only embark on an exhibition of ceramics created in the last 50 years if I truly believed that the pieces we were to show stand comparison with the wonderful earlier pieces that pass through our hands.” A long-time friend of the artist, he recalls that she once predicted her work would be “taken seriously” only after her death, an assertion, he says, that came true.
Visitors to the show at the St James’s gallery should consider pairing it with a trip to Ben Brown Fine Arts’ exhibition of Les Lalanne. There can be few chances to see cabbages sculpted by two female artists of the 20th century.
Claude Lalanne and Anne Gordon both rose to fame in the 1960s, working in figurative art during a century dominated by male artists and abstraction.