Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Martin Battersby

Oedipus and the Sphinx, c1965

This oil-on-canvas hung for many years over the staircase in Brighton museum but has now disappeared, presumably into store. This is a pity since the painter, Martin Battersby, has  strong connections to Brighton, not only on account of residence at 36 Sussex Square 1964 -1973, but also the enthusiastic role he played with the then Pavilion curator John Morley in establishing the Museum's 20thC collection. The two travelled to France together and at relatively low cost built up the impressive collection of furniture and decorative items that is on display today.

Martin Battersby, collector, historian, designer, decorator and artist, played a crucial role through the 1960s and 1970s in promoting the reappraisal of Art Nouveau and the decorative art of the '20s and '30s. He was a gifted trompe-l'oeil artist with a particular fondness for the sphinx motif.  In 1959 he painted murals on this theme for the Sphinx Room of the Carlyle Hotel, New York and two years later showed paintings of sphinx subjects at the Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London.

While at 36 Sussex Square he lavishly furnished and decorated his flat in the art deco style and painted a magnificent mural of Brighton over the common staircase. He also opened his own 'Sphinx Studio' in Prince Albert Street, as a retail outlet for his silkscreen furnishing fabrics and papers.

 5 years ago 'Harlequin-Sphinx' fetched $4,630 at auction.

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