Doris Zinkeisen (1898-1991)
|Artist Name||Doris Zinkeisen (1898-1991)|
|Title||Theatrical Musical Portrait|
|Description||This stunning Scottish musical theatrical portrait oil painting is by female artist Doris Zinkeisen. Painted circa 1960 it is a portrait of a lady in a red cape on stage with instruments at her feet. Her face is illuminated and there is a rich curtain behind her. Zinkeisen had many artistic connections to the theatre in London and this may be from one of the productions she was involved with.|
|Medium||Oil on Canvas|
|Size||20 x 24 inches|
|Frame||Housed in a coloured gallery frame, 31 inches by 27 inches and in good condition.|
|Biography||Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898-1991) was a Scottish theatrical stage and costume designer, painter, commercial artist, and writer. She was best known for her work in theatrical design. Doris Zinkeisen was born in Clynder House in Rosneath, Argyll, Scotland. Her parents were Welsh-born Clare Bolton-Charles and Victor Zinkeisen, a timber merchant and amateur artist from Glasgow. Her father's family were originally from Bohemia and had been settled in Scotland for two hundred years. She had a younger sister, Anna Zinkeisen, who also became an artist. The family left Scotland and moved to Pinner, near Harrow in 1909. Zinkeisen attended the Harrow School of Art for four years and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools in 1917 together with her sister Anna. During World War I Zinkeisen served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment at a hospital in Northwood, Middlesex.Zinkeisen shared a studio in London with her sister during the 1920s and 1930s from where she embarked on her career as a painter, commercial artist, and theatrical designer.Zinkeisen's realist style made her popular as a portraitist and she became a well-known society painter. The subject matter of her paintings, society portraiture, equestrian portraiture, and scenes from the parks of London and Paris reflect the lifestyle of the upper class at the time. An early success was her 1925 portrait of the actor Elsa Lanchester.She also worked widely in other media as an illustrator and commercial artist including producing advertising posters for several British mainline railway companies and murals for the RMS Queen Mary. A 1939 poster for the London Underground, At the Theatre, was printed but never issued due to the start of World War II. In 1944, Doris and her sister Anna were commissioned by United Steel Companies (USC) to produce twelve paintings that were reproduced in the trade and technical press in Britain, Canada, Australia and South Africa. The images were subsequently collated in a book, This Present Age, published in 1946. Zinkeisen produced a number of posters for London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), Southern Railway (SR), and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in the 1930s. The posters often featured historical themes such as Berwick-upon-Tweed by LNER (1930) which shows Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan being punished by Edward I for crowning Robert the Bruce at Scone in 1306. In 1935, John Brown and Company Shipbuilders of Clydebank commissioned both of the Zinkeisen sisters to paint the murals in the Verandah Grill, a restaurant and night-club on the ocean liner the RMS Queen Mary. The murals, on the theme of entertainment, depicted circus and theatre scenes and can still be seen on the ship, now permanently moored in Long Beach, California. Zinkeisen was also involved in planning the interior decoration which featured a parquet dance floor surrounded by black Wilton carpets, star-studded red velvet curtains and a sweeping illuminated balustrade whose colours changed in time with the music. Writing in Vogue in 1936, Cecil Beaton described the Verandah Grill as By far the prettiest room on any ship – becomingly lit, gay in colour and obviously so successful that it would be crowded if twice its present size. The largest mural was damaged during World War II by gunnery officers tacking charts to the poster board covering the mural. After the war, Zinkeisen restored the mural and reportedly painted a mouse in the mural so there would always be a mouse on the Queen Mary, a dig at Cunard, which prided itself on having no rodents on their ships. Both sisters also contributed murals to the RMS Queen Elizabeth in 1940. Zinkeisen exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1929, at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London and in Paris and the United States. She received Bronze (1929), Silver (1930) and Gold (1934) Paris Salon medals for her work. By 1929 she had been elected a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI). Zinkeisen was a successful stage and costume designer for plays and films. Despite her success as a painter and commercial artist she was best known as a theatrical designer. During World War II, Zinkeisen joined the St John Ambulance Brigade and worked as a nurse in London helping wartime Blitz casualties having first trained as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse during World War I. She worked in the casualty department in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Zinkeisen worked in the casualty department in the mornings and painted in the afternoons, recording the events of the day. Following the liberation of Europe in 1945, Zinkeisen was commissioned by the War Artists' Advisory Committee as a war artist for the North West Europe Commission of the Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John (JWO). As the organisation's staff and resources moved into newly liberated areas, Zinkeisen's role as a war artist was to record the commission's activities. Based in Brussels at the commission's headquarters she recorded the commission's post-war relief work in north west Europe including the rehabilitation and repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees. Zinkeisen traveled by lorry or by air (from a nearby RAF base) throughout north-west Europe making sketches which she brought back to her studio in the commission's headquarters for further work. Her work as a war artist included three days at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, immediately after its liberation. Zinkeisen was one of a small number of artists who produced pictures of Bergen-Belsen in the months following its liberation. The other artists there included Leslie Cole, Mary Kessell, Sergeant Eric Taylor (one of the camp's liberators), Edgar Ainsworth, and Mervyn Peake. Her painting Human Laundry shows German orderlies washing camp inmates before they go to hospital. By the time Zinkeisen had become a war artist her palette had already darkened from the colours of her society paintings. Her war paintings use muted greys, browns, and ochres like contemporaries such as Eric Ravilious and Stanley Spencer Paintings from Zinkeisen's time as a war artist are held by the Red Cross museum and archives, the museum of the Order of St John and the Imperial War Museum. Her work was part of the painting event in the art competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics. After the war, Zinkeisen continued to work in London as a theatrical designer and held occasional exhibitions of her paintings. She designed the cover of a special edition of Everybody's Magazine to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. In 1954, Zinkeisen designed the scenery and costumes for Noël Coward's musical, After the Ball, based on Oscar Wilde's play, Lady Windermere's Fan, and the Prince Littler directed play, The Little Glass Clock, written by Hugh Mills. Zinkeisen married Edward Grahame Johnstone, a naval officer in 1927 and had twin daughters in June 1928, the children's book illustrators Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone and a son, Murray Johnstone. Zinkeisen was a fine horsewoman and won the Moscow Cup at the International Horse Show in 1934. Grahame Johnstone died in 1946 and Zinkeisen's twin girls then lived with their mother moving with her to Suffolk in 1966. Zinkeisen outlived her daughter Janet who died in an accident in 1979. Doris Zinkeisen died on 3 January 1991, in Badingham, Suffolk, aged 92.
Exhibited: Royal Academy 9, Royal Scottish Academy 7, Glasgow Institute 1, Society of Women Artists 3, Royal Hibernian Academy 1 and Paris Salon.