John Minton (1917-1957)

Minton was an English painter, illustrator, stage designer and teacher. He studied in France and began his career teaching in London, but he painted prolifically during this time. In addition to landscapes and portraits, he also built up a reputation as a book illustrator.

In the mid 1950’s, Minton found himself out of sync with the move to abstraction, and felt increasingly sidelined. He suffered psychological problems, self medicated with alcohol and in 1957 he committed suicide.

John Minton (1917-1957), Kevin Maybury asleep,


Pen and sepia ink
12 ½ x 10 in (32 x 25 cm)

Collections: John Constable

We are grateful to Frances Spalding for confirming the traditional identification of the sitter as Kevin Maybury (1926-2013).

Minton left the RCA in 1956 and started work designing stage sets for The Royal Court Theatre. There he met Maybury, an Australian carpenter working in the scenery department. They began an affair and by winter that year Maybury had moved into Apollo Place, Minton’s house in Chelsea.

Minton made a number of drawings of Mayfield and one superb full length in oil now in the collection of The Tate. There is a similar drawing of Maybury asleep last known at Bonhams (Nov.16, 2011 lot 13).

Maybury subsequently had a distinguished career as a stage manager in South Africa and was the first person to earn a lifetime achievement award for services to South African theatre. He died in 2013.

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