Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Valentine Dobree (1894-1974)   BIOGRAPHY

Les Viol, circa 1930
Framed (ref: 47)
Signed in pencil

Collage on paper, 15 1/2 x 27 1/4 in. (39.4 x 69.3 cm.)


Exhibited: London, Claridge Gallery, Valentine Dobrée, December 1931
Literature: Hilary Diaper, Valentine Dobrée , The University Gallery, Leeds, 2000, pp. 8-11

The use of collage as fine rather than decorative art was one of the most significant innovations of the twentieth century. Dobrée was one of its most talented practitioners in Britain during the late 1920s and early 1930's. Herbert Read, whose collection included work by Dobrée, was amongst her admirers. Most of the thirty-four works shown in her pivotal Claridge Gallery show of 1931 remain untraced. The art critic of The Times reviewed this work in the following terms:

'Her designs, mostly cut out of patterned wallpapers, are definitely and very intelligently "cubist".  Indeed the first response to them is the feeling that here at last is the proper application of an artistic formula that is never quite satisfactory in painting. The chief attraction is in colour,  Mrs Dobrée producing enchanting effects in the schemes of grey-blue and buff. There is a lively invention in the designs, and they are carried out with the most subtle logic in tone relation and a happy use of textures.' (9 Dec. 1931)

We are grateful to Hilary Diaper for her assistance.

Valentine Dobree (1894-1974)

Valentine Dobrée was born Gladys May Mabel Brooke-Pechell, at Cannanore, India, in 1894. At the age of three she was sent to England to be educated. For a short time Valentine was a pupil of Andre Derain but had no further formal education in art. In 1913 she married Bonamy Dobrée. From April 1914 until the outbreak of the War they lived in Florence. Returning to England she led a Bohemian life - she had an affair with Mark Gertler, who painted her portrait in 1919 and 1920, and became a close friend of Roland Penrose and Dora Carrington. In 1920 she exhibited with the London Group. Between 1921-25 the Dobrées lived in a French village in the Pyrenees; Valentine exhibited at the Salon des Independents during this period. In 1926 the Dobrées moved to Cairo. 1927 saw the publication of Valentine's first novel Your Cuckoo Sings by Kind. This was followed in 1929 by a second novel The Emperor's Tigers. In the same year the Dobrées returned to England, settling at Mendham Priory, Harleston, Norfolk. In 1930 Vaentine's daughter Georgina was born. In 1931 Dobrée had her first solo show at the Claridge Gallery, London. In 1936 she moved to Earl's Colne, Essex, and then Collingham, Leeds, returning to London in 1950. In 1963 there was an exhibition of Dobrée's collages shown in the Library of the ICA, London. In 1965 Valentine's first book of verse, This Green Tide, was published by Faber and Faber. In her literary capacity Dobrée was admired by T. S. Eliot and Graham Greene. In 2000 The University Gallery, Leeds, (which owns a number of her works), held an exhibition on Dobrée.

See all works by Valentine Dobree