December 23rd Adrian Stokes (Death)











London – born Adrian Stokes (1902 – 1972) was an art critic and amateur painter with a particular interest in early Renaissance works of art and, through his friendships, he was instrumental in establishing the St. Ives School of Artists.

Educated at Rugby and Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Stokes then spent some time in Europe and his experiences led to the publication of his first book, ‘The Thread of Ariadne’ (1925). This in turn led to an introduction to Osbert Sitwell, to Early Renaissance Italian art and to the avant-garde ‘Ballets Russes’, which formed the subjects of his next book ‘Sunrise in the West’ (1926). Stokes met the modernist poet, Ezra Pound, in November 1926, and wrote two further books on the Early Renaissance Period, ‘The Quattro Cento’ (1932) and ‘Stones of Rimini’ (1934) and two on ballet ‘To-Night the Ballet’ (1934) and ‘Russian Ballets’ (1935) after which, having decided to learn to paint, he studied at ‘The Euston Road School of Art’ and wrote his seventh book, ‘Colour and Form’ (1937).

Stokes married the artist Margaret Mellis (1914 – 2009), in 1938 and the newly married couple moved to Carbis Bay creating a hub which attracted Ben Nicholson (February 6th) and Barbara Hepworth (May 20th) who invited Naum Gabo (August 5th) to St Ives in 1939 creating the nucleus of the St. Ives School.  He ran a market garden during the Second World War, where he employed the conscientious objector Sven Berlin (September 11th) and he was also a member of the Home Guard.

 At the same time he continued his writing on the Early Italian Renaissance period, publishing ‘Venice’ (1945) and also ‘Inside Out’ (1947) which concentrated on psychoanalysis and Cézanne which was published following his departure from St. Ives subsequent to his divorce from Mellis.

Stokes then caused a scandal by marrying Mellis’ younger sister, the ceramicist, Ann Mellis (1922 – 2014).  Such a marriage was, at the time, illegal in Britain and consequently they married in Switzerland where there was no law preventing such a marriage.  There must be few men who have married two sisters and have had children with both of them, Telfer, with Margaret and Philip and Ariadne with Ann.

Between 1951 and 1967 Stokes published a further eleven books including, notably, ‘Art and Science’ (1949), ‘Michelangelo: A Study in the Nature of Art’ (1955), ‘Raphael’ (1956), ‘Greek Culture and the Ego’ (1958), ‘Monet’ (1958), ‘Three Essays on the Painting of our Time’ (1961) and  ‘Painting and the Inner World’ (1963).

He continued writing for newspapers and was a founder of the ‘Imago group’ which, for over eighteen years, met to discuss psychoanalysis to philosophy, ethics and philosophy.








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