An original drawing of Moses, circa 1850 with a gift inscription from Mother Pelagia Gonzales of the Convent of Pantanassa Monestry in Mystras. Mystras: Self-published., 1951. First edition. An original drawing of Moses, circa 1850 with a gift inscription from Mother Pelagia Gonzales of the Convent of Pantanassa Monestry in Mystras.The drawng s titled in Greek 107x155mm.
The inscription is to Lady Norton and dated 2 May 1951. Nöel Evelyn Hughes (1891–1972), always known by her nickname Peter, was a daughter of Empire. Her father was a distinguished engineer after whom Hughes Road in her birthplace Mumbai is named. She rebelled against what she described as her “very early Victorian family, every one of whom was of course interested in music, painting and poetry” – her grandfather and great-grandfather had exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy – and she went to work in a leading advertising company.
In 1927 she married the diplomat Clifford Norton, and an interest in the Bauhaus art school developed after she met students- turned-teachers Herbert Bayer and Marcel Breuer while skiing.
In 1936, the London art world was blown wide open by the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries in Cork Street. When it closed, Peter was ready to fill the space and opened her trenchantly named London Gallery with her cousin Marguerita Strettell. The Redfern Gallery and the Mayor Gallery were both nearby and the street became the locus for modern art in London. Peggy Guggenheim’s Guggenheim Jeune opened two years later. The influences on Peter included Roland Penrose, co-organiser of the Surrealist show, and a wide range of émigré artists and designers, above all Bayer and Breuer. She was always a Modernist, determined to support artists as generously as she could, and, to spread the word, she created a lending library within the gallery.
In 1938 Peter’s husband was sent to Warsaw as Chargé d’affaires. She sold her gallery to Penrose, and left with her husband for Poland, where she was an eyewitness to Hitler’s invasion on 1 September 1939; the war gave her the chance to use her formidable energies in protecting lives and helping refugees, often at her own risk.
Later, having departed for Switzerland, she became an active and adventurous patron to John Craxton RA as well other artists in Switzerland, and later in Greece, when Clifford became Ambassador in 1946. Peter had lost much of her own collection during the war, but built it up again with less well- known names. She was an early supporter of the ICA in London and, on retirement to Britain, remained an indefatigable and generous champion of young artists.
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