Ivy Langton self portrait.

Ivy Langton

Ivy Langton

- a very special artist from nowhere to everywhere and back again.

This site is open to new information. Some of the existing information may be incorrect, some is impossible to varify. Some of the information is based on hearsay. No offence is intended to anyone living or dead. I have just tried to present the said information for those that are interested. If you think any information is incorrect, you have things to add or comments please let me know.
While some people may wish certain events did not happen I present them in good faith that those involved would prefer things that we understand to be correct should be in the open.
Thank you.

♦ Ivy was my great Aunt and older sister to my Gran, Kathleen. She was born Ivy Lucretia Fanny Langton on the 16th of July 1904 at Saxby All Saints. Saxby All Saints, is a small village on the River Ancholm, not far from Winterton and Winteringham (in the county of Lincolnshire, England).

My father said (May 2011), "My grandmother had been the cook for the parson. I am not sure if she was still the cook in 1904. Last week I gave Jennifer my grandmother's Mrs Beaton's cookery book presented to her in 1897 by Mrs Elkin, the parsons wife".

Ivy died physically in an old folks home in Lincolnshire on September 6th 1988, aged 88 years. Mentally she was lost long before that to a hinterland of great memories from earlier in her life.

♦ On Ivys early life my father says:

Ivy was quite ill when she was young with one leg shorter than the other. To cure this problem I think she spent about a year in the Hospital in Hull. I think they hung weights on her leg to stretch it. This was what Granny {Kathleen, Ivys sister} told me. Perhaps old medical records from Hull Infermary can be consulted on this subject to confirm or deny the treatment. I am not sure how old she was then either.
Ivy Langton top left (others are Kath, Bill and Eddy) 1914
Ivy Langton top left (others are Kath, Bill and Eddy) 1914

♦ At some point the family moved from Winteringham to Winterton (also in Lincolnshire, England).

♦ Ivy was brought up from what we would consider a poor background, her father worked on the farms as a labourer.

Ivy Langton left (others are Ivys mother and Walter)
Ivy Langton left (others are Ivys mother and Walter)

♦ Following her leg operation my father says of Ivy:

When she got better I think she became a childrens nurse/governess and she worked in the family looking after the children. I think she worked with a clergyman or perhaps she went to paris to look after a clergymans children. Not sure what this date was either perhaps about 1920ish. Whilst she was taking the children out I think she saw some artists painting and became friends with them over time. They encouraged her to take up painting so it was about this time she gave up children and took up painting. French desk calendar that belonged to Ivy Langton.
A French desk calendar that belonged to Ivy.

♦ I was told that...

She became Kurt Seligmanns mistress but again I do not know when or for how long. Seligmann met and married Arlette Paraf in 1935.

♦ Kurt Seligmann was a well known surrealist artist. Max Raphael was a friend of Kurt and Ivys.

Ivy Langton painting
Ivy Langton painting some tramps, thought to be in Paris in the 1930s. Tramps seem to have featured frequently. Some of the works on the floor may be Kurts.

♦ Father continues...

Sometime in the mid 1930s Ivy joined up with a group of artists that seemed to wander Europe. Artistic circles will be able to give you who they were. She went to Spain during the Spanish Civil war.
The artists also went to Sarajevo I think that was in Serbia during those days. The very famous Mosque in Sarajevo is shown in one of Ivys paintings. There is also a picture of the dancers there. The Mosque was destroyed during the civil war in about 2000.
Sometime towards the end of the 1930s the group of artists arrived in Corfu, a Greek Island. They stayed with a family called Durrel. Lawrence Durrel became a very famous writer, read The Alexander Quartet and other books. Gerald Durrel became the world famous zoologist and writer. They made a TV film of the Durrels life in Corfu. The film showed the group of artists living with them and the female artist in reality had been Ivy. {I recently read the book & it refers to a Cockney rather than Lincolnshire accented person so I'm not sure if Ivy is in the book. Not that I recall Ivy having much of an accent at all}. Ivy corresponded with the Durrels for some time.
Then in early 1939 Ivy and a friend went to Tahiti where she did several paintings. From here she went to Australia to visit the family. By now the world looked as if war was going to begin so she came home, I think she arrived home in about September 1939. She had no money and had to get a job. I think for a while she was an ambulance driver but then got a job in drawing office in Grantham, Lincolnshire. It was a wartime office so I am not at all sure what she worked on.
An ornament of Ivy Langtons.
An ornament of Ivys. I've no idea if this is something she made or bought. If Ivy did not make it then I'd guess it came from France but can not be certain. She did do some pottery.

♦ I think it was my Gran (Kathleen) who said she thought that during World War II Ivy "ran" (or perhaps more likely wrote letters containing) messages (presumably for SOE) to France (as she could speak French well) to a lady called Germain. My Gran said that Ivy was a friend of Germain for many years. I hear that Germain got a medal for her services to France but that Ivy got no recognition. I can remember Ivy and my Gran chatting together about Germain. I believe that Ivy continued to correspond with Germain until perhaps around 1980. I know nothing further on this.

♦ Ivy Langton also went by the name of Ivy Grierson although she was never married. On this my Dad says:

Tommy was an officer in The Honorable Artillery Company, by virtue of being an officer in the 1st World war. They are what you might call a club for the "Upper Crust Military" a very elite gang of people. Even now they are the kind of people who fire the 21 gun salutes for the queen in Hyde Park on her birthday. During the second world war he was the catering manager for Silver Line. This was an old British shipping company. He was based in Liverpool during the war and they lived at Hoylake. That was where I met the Captains and Chief Engineers from the ships. He used to have big parties for them before the convoys used to sail. I used to listen to their stories and I was smitten with the sea! Perhaps the place I got my love for parties as well!

I think Ivy met Tommy Grierson in Paris during the 30s but they got together perhaps in the early 40s. They were never married as Tommies wife would not give him a divorce. Tommy had two sons Pat and Ian both older than me but they lived with Ivy and Tommy. He died of a heart attack in the early 50s. His wife claimed back everything and Ivy was left penniless.
Ivy Langton, her Mum and Dad with Kathleen.
Ivy Langton (2nd left) with her sister (Kathleen, far right) and their Mum & Dad holding a trophy won by my Dad, Barrie in about 1950. Taken in Skegness.

♦ Max Raphael and Kurt Seligmann; It seems that both of these men had a lot of anguish in their lives. They were both Jews and their families had suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis. I asked my father about this on finding that Kurt had died of an accidental gunshot wound.

The term "Accidental" is cover for suicide I think. It affected Ivy quite badly. Kurt visited London during the 1950's, perhaps about 1954. I was staying in London at school at the time. I think Ivy had told Kurt Seligman where I was staying and he came and had a drink with me. Seligman and Max were Jews living and working in Paris during the 20s and 30s when Ivy was with them. During the late 1930s their friends and families were rounded up and put into concentration camps in Germany. It seemed that the war brought them all to the end of their lives prematurely. None of them were ever the same again.

♦ Sadly it seems that Max Raphael also took his own life.

♦ Father continues...

She had to go to work again. She worked in a drawing office of firm called Kents, I think they made car parts. I know she soon got fed up with this job. She decided to return to child minding and looked after a family near Luton. When that family grew up she carried on doing this job in America. Whilst in America she tried to pick up her brushes again, I have a picture that she did, her heart was no longer in it I think.

♦ Most of my early memories of Ivy were following her return from America in the late 1960's, I think to help my Gran look after my sister and I. I was told that an Aunt, an artist no less, was coming to see us and I had great expectations. As time past I got to see some of her work and it seemed that she was on the verge of starting something new at any moment. Sadly I don't think that this starting of new work happened.

♦ My later memories of Ivy are from the 1980's when she seemed to have given up on everything. Looking back now I can see that she lead an early charmed life subsequently dominated by the tragedy that war leaves in its wake.

Like so many that have gone, I wish I could ask her more but it is nice to celebrate her life with the things that she has left behind.

♦ We are extremely lucky that some of her family have some of the work that she left behind or gave to them.

If you have any of her work that you would like to let us put on this site or that you would like to tell us about you can contact us using the enquiry form on the main part of the site: Enquiries

♦ Or email us

Thank you.

Please excuse the photographic quality below, all our usual digital cameras keep suffering autofocus problems. If there is great interest I will try to find the time to re-shoot these with a better camera etc.
Tramps By River by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as Tramps By River. Assumed to be in Paris circa 1933.
Ivy Langton self portrait.Ivy Langton self portrait 1934.
Tramps by Ivy Langton.Correct title unknown, refer to as Tramps. Assumed to be in Paris.
Rue d by Ivy Langton
Correct title unknown, refer to as Rue d' l Aude. Assumed to be in Paris circa 1934.
Rue d' l Aude today from Google Street View with an approximation of the area covered by the Ivy Langton painting.
Rue d' l Aude today from Google Street View with an approximation of the area covered by the Ivy Langton painting. I think it looked nicer when Ivy painted it!
Rue d' l Aude is crossed by Rue des artistes. At the East end of Rue d' l Aude there are, (where the fence is in the painting), some steps leading down to Av. Rene Coty and beyond this there is a railway line (and you can see a steam train to the right in the painting). From Rue d' l Aude you can no longer see the railway line (and even the buildings have changed quite a lot). Here is a street view image on Googlemaps for what the scene looks like now (not quite from exactly the same location or with anything like the same aspect but you get the idea and can see that the house at the end of the street near the trees on the left has the same number of levels and so on):

View Larger Map Looking at this location you can see that there is a railway line that would have been visible from here, as depicted in this painting by Ivy from all those years ago!
Rue d by Ivy LangtonA label on the back of the painting shows that it was displayed in The Storran Gallery in London.
Max Raphael by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as Max Raphael. Assumed to be of Max Raphael in 1936 from writing of uncertain origin on the reverse.
Bathing at Paleostritsa by Ivy LangtonBathing at Paleostritsa. Done in Corfu (based on a search for "Paleokastritsa") in 1937 from writing on the reverse.
Horse Race by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as Horse Race. Assumed to be done in Tahiti in 1939 from writing on the reverse.
League of Nations by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as League of Nations. Assumed to be done in Geneva from writing on the reverse. 1930's assumed. I think that the date was shown on the back but the painting was reframed and I think they covered the text. Looking at this closely becomes intriguing as one of the flags seems to be blowing against the wind. I don't know if this is the meaning behind the painting. It looks like it could be the Austro-Hungarian flag. I wonder if it was to do with war brewing.
I found the following prints in the bottom of a campher chest given to me by my Gran (Kathleen - Ivys sister). Cafe Bar by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as Cafe Bar. This is assumed to have been made from an etching. Print 7 of 16. Date unknown. Cafe Bar by Ivy LangtonCorrect title unknown, refer to as Gambling. This is assumed to have been made from an etching. Print 8 of 18. Date unknown.

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