Lucian Freud, John Minton, Jamaica

A holiday at The Jamaica Inn prompts thoughts about which artists have painted  on the island. The 20th century British artist most closely associated with Jamaica in my mind is John Minton. He first came by boat to Kingston with his then boyfriend, Ricky Stride, in 1950. They apparently met on the boat two British Jamaican residents, Peter and Alice Blagrove, and stayed with them for a while.

Was there something of a gay community here in the 1950s? We went today to Noel Coward’s house, Firefly, and also saw Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye, now part of a hotel of the same name. All sorts of gay names seem to have been over the years ( Cecil Beaton, Truman Capote, Angus Wilson), including Peter Watson, who visited in 1949 and 1950, staying at the Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston. One of those rare collectors of 20th Century British and Irish art in 1950s Northern Ireland, Tommy MacGeough Bond of The Argory, also came and stayed.

Minton’s pictures of Jamaica certainly come up for sale quite often, as do Noel Coward’s. Freud came as well in the 50s, but there only seem to be two pictures known by him with local subjects, one fittingly portraying a bunch of bananas similar to the one I can see from the verandah of my room now. The frontispiece which Freud contributed to James Pope-Hennessy’s “The Baths of Absolom” in 1954 also looks very much like a Caribbean subject.

Winston Churchill stayed at The Jamaica Inn in the 1950s and painted from it as well.