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The Love Letter, (Portrait of Dora Labbette) circa 1918
Framed (ref: 6363)
30 x 25 in. (76 x 63.5 cm.)
Provenance: private collection since 2003
The model is likely to be Dora Labbette who was married briefly to David Strang, William’s son, in 1918.
Ibbs and Tillett leaflet, circa 1919.
Dora Labbette (1898-1984) was an English soprano who won the Gold Medal at the Guildhall School of Music, and became well-known as a ballad singer. She was represented by the famous concert agency Ibbs and Tillett, In 1918 she married David Strang who was the son of William Strang, painter and etcher, living at 20 Hamilton Terrace. They soon separated and she continued her career but whilst married to David she was painted by her father-in-law,William Strang. A group portrait, The Singer which features Dora, David Strang and William Strang himself is known through an illustration from the Illustrated London News but it is believed that this painting was destroyed by the painter when Dora and David separated.
C.R. Ashbee, who sat for Strang, recalled that:
....in each of his portraits there is some touch of his sitters' ugliness revealed in the beauty of the draughtsmanship....those of us who ...have sat for our portraits and prize the results....are also grimly conscious of an unpleasant something in ourselves that we don't mention but that our love of truthfulness would not have us conceal...they have the quality of Dr Johnson, they are lexicographical (CR Ashbee, unpublished typescript of memories, Victoria and Albet Museum, vol IV, p. 71, quoted in Athill, William Strang, 1981, p 22)
We are grateful to Jeanne Strang for assistance