A D R I A N  S T O K E S

Biography with Bibliography
Richard Read

Go back to CONTENTS

1902 - 1909 Adrian Durham Stokes: born at 18 Radnor Place, Bayswater, 27 October, third son of Durham and Ethel Stokes. His father was a wealthy Midlands stockbroker who once stood as a Liberal candidate and published an essay on the philosophy of personality. Hyde Park was a forbidding playground for the young Stokes; by contrast, holiday visits to the South Coast were a portent of the Mediterranean harmony of stone and water he would discover in the 'twenties'.

1910 - 1916 Attended Heddon Court, Cockfosters, after a succession of governesses. Shocked by his introduction to religion there, he tried to convert his parents for fear they would go to Hell. Is remembered at the age of twelve or thirteen discussing the philosophy of Kant with one of the Masters.

1916 - 1919 Attended Rugby School in G. F. Bradley's House. Public school was to feature in his earliest books as an image of hampered sensibility. Excelled at most sports, becoming a national schoolboy champion at tennis. Held Socialist views and contributed to the Rugbeian magazine. In 1917, his eldest brother Philip, who had been head boy, was killed in action on the French battlefield. Felt the need to compensate for the loss by intellectual exertion. Notebooks reveal ambitious private study in the history of philosophy and culture. Discusses Freud's theories with his friend W. D. Robson-Scott. Develops a passionate interest in the East from the novel's of Joseph Conrad.

1920 - 1922 Went up to Magdalen College with a history scholarship. Dropped history to read the new Modern Greats course in Philosophy, politics and Economics, devoting himself especially to the study of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and F. H. Bradley's Appearance and Reality. Arrives in Italy on New Year's Eve 1921-2, an experience that was to assume great importance. Projected his emotional difficulties into the terms of Bradleyan philosophy in two articles, ' Dilemma ' and ' The Last Lecture ', published in the Oxford Fortnightly Review, February and May 1922. Made friends with Robert Byron and Edward Sackville West. Reads Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams and The Psychopathology of Everday Life at about this time.

1923 - 1924 Graduates in June with a second class degree having excelled in philosophy, but refused to turn in maths and German papers. Starts career in journalism, but detests it so much that his father gives him a little money for a world tour. Sails for Bombay, 25 August. The poverty and mysticism of India enables him by contrast to define the values of European life, but his aesthetic sense is prepared for Italy by the Taj Mahal. Six articles on these matters published in the Englishman of Calcutta, November-December 1923, Journeys on through the Far East to America where he runs out of money. Wires his father and receives the exact fare home. Resumes journalism in England until 1925, publishing whimsical pieces on London society, politics and sport, with reviews of books on travel, history of science and art (Renoir and Cezanne) . Meets the Sitwells - ' the first to open my eyes ' - at Rapallo, Winter I924.

1925 Incorporates Oxford and Indian articles with his travel diary into his first book, The Thread of Ariadne, with an introduction by John Middleton Murry (Kegan Paul). His father provides him with an income on the advice of Osbert Sitwell. Under the strong reactive influence of Ruskin and Pater, he begins many years' exploration of the 'Quattro Cento' art of Italy . Is profoundly affected by his experience of Venice and his discoveries of Sigismondo Malatesta's Tempio at Rimini, Giorgione's Castelfranco altarpiece and Luciano Laurana's courtyard at Urbino.Winters at Amalfi and Rapallo with the Sitwells.

1926 - 1928 Conceives of the Bradleyan dualism of Prose and Poetry to express his new artistic interests and appreciation of  D. H. Lawrence's writings in Sunrise in the West: A Modem Interpretation of Past and Present (Kegan Paul, 1926). Meets Ezra Pound on the tennis courts of Rapallo (Autumn I926) and D. H. Lawrence sometime in 1927-8. Takes proofs of Lady Chatterly's Lover to the publishers, reading them first. Pound annotates Sunrise in the West: 'At the bottom of one page he had written: " D. H. Lawrence, damn fool anyway ", which I remembered providentially as I stood on Lawrence's doorstep. Also providential was a rubber in my pocket' [from a letter to Lawrence Gowing]. During these years, meets the American art critic Bernard Berenson discoursing on a Piero picture in the Tempio. Tells him (in Pound's phrase) 'where to git off at'. Trip to Spain and Portugal in Spring I926 With the Sitwell brothers; thereafter travels widely by himself in Italy.

1929 - 1930 Offers his entire savings to Diaghilev's Ballet, but is turned down. Strongly influenced by the Cantos and by Pound's Fascist sympathies for the Italian regime (which he later regretted). Summer: Venice with Pound, who champions the publications of his essays 'The Sculptor Agostino di Duccio' (Criterion, IX, October 1929); ' Painting, Giorgione and Barbaro' (Criteron, IX, April 1930) and ' Pisanello ' (The Hound & Horn, IV, i, October - December I930), three of four essays on the Tempio Malatestiano, of which the second was to have been on the sculptor Matteo de' Pasti. As a result of his depressions, and after intense reading of Freud, is introduced by Robson-Scott to Ernest Jones, and in turn to Melanie Klein with whom his seven years of analysis begins in January I930.

1932 Begins five-year period of intense creation, writing five books and over thirty articles in which the aesthetic of carving and modelling supercedes the Bradleyan dualism of Prose and Poetry. His first mature work, The Quattro Cento: A different conception of the Italian Renaissance (Faber), part one of an incomplete trilogy, was favourably reviewed by Pound, Sacheverell Sitwell, Kenneth Clark and Robert Byron, but sold less than two hundred copies in its first ten years. To Yugoslavia with the painter Mollie Higgins while writing Stones of Rimini (Faber) which is dedicated to her.

1933 Curtails travel and takes flat in the Adelphi to continue psycho-analysis. Publishes a review of The Psycho-Analysis of Children, by Melanie Klein (Criterion, XII, April); ' Ballet: a Proposal ' (Week-end Review, 29 April); ' From The Tempio ' (Criterion, XIII, October; slightly revised in Stones of Rimini), ' The Eighth Wonder ', review of Romola Nijinska, The Listener 29 November 1933, supplement xv and a series while standing in for Anthony Blunt as art critic of the Spectator: 'Art Today ', 20 October; ' Mr. Ben Nicholson's Painting ', 27 October; ' Miss Hepworth's Carvings ', 3 November; ' Mr. Henry Moore's Sculpture ', 10 November and ' Matisse and Picasso ', 24 November.

1934  Publishes Stones of Rimini. Moves to Wells Coates's Lawn Road Flats, Hampstead, the antithesis of his architectural values at that time. Other residents were Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Publishes To-Night the Ballet (Faber) and becomes ballet critic of the Spectator from June of  this year until October I937. Also publishes ' The Royal Academy ' letter to The Listener 1 April 1934, ' The Classical Ballet ' (Life and Letters, June, X, 54 June 1934), a review of First Russia then Tibet, by Robert Byron (Criterion, XIII, July) and of R. R. Tomlinson's Picture Making by Children (' The Child Artist ', The Listener, 3 I October).

1935 Publishes Russian Ballets (Faber); a review of Kenneth Clark's A Catalogue of the Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle (' Leonardo's Drawings ', The Listener, 26 June) and ' Ballet in England ' (Theatre Arts Monthly, XIX, August).

1936 Begins painting for the first time at Comwall and  Pangbourne. Meets Margaret Mellis at the Cezanne Exhibition while painting in Paris.

1937 Moves to Fitzroy Street. Studies painting at the Euston Road School with William Coldstream, Lawrence Gowing, Graham Bell and Victor Pasmore. Meets W. H.Auden about this time. Paints his early pictures of olives at Aldous Huxley's Villa Huley, Sanary. Publishes 'Mr. Ben Nicholson at the Lefevre Galleries' (Spectator, 19 March) and his ' Meditation On Painting ', Colour and Form (Faber; heavily revised in 1950), his last publications for eight years.

1938 Exhibits eight paintings with Ivon Hitchens and others at Reid and Lefevre Gallery in January. Finishes psycho-analysis. Marries the painter Margaret Mellis in July. Designs a poster with Margaret for anti-Franco demonstration at Trafalgar Square in May.

1939 Buys Little Park Owles at Carbis Bay, Cornwall. Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and their triplets come to stay for stormy period after being evacuated from London. Declines post of Curator of the National Gallery (then at Wales), having started a market gardening concern in the war effort.

1940 His son Telfer born in October. Naum Gabo joins the artists. Looks after the painter, Alfred Wallis, buying him paints, paying for his funeral and protecting his pictures from the authorities after his death in August 1942.

1945 Publishes Venice: An Aspect of Art (Faber) and an article revealing long established debts to Freud, ' Concerning Art and Metapsychology ' (International Journal of Psychoanalysis, XXVI, iii-iv).

1946 Publishes the autobiographical fragment ' Inside Out ' (Polemic, II, January). This post-war journal, edited by Humphrey Slater, commissioned ' essays by writers who are opposed to the drift back to Romance '. After the break-up of his marriage, returns to London for brief session of psycho-analysis.

1947 Sells his library and leaves for Ticino, Switzerland, in order to marry Ann Mellis, sister of his first wife, Margaret. Publishes Cezanne (The Faber Gallery) and his autobiography, Inside Out: An Essay in the Psychology and Aesthetic Appeal of Space (Faber), with a dedication to Margaret.

I948 Settles at ' Casa alla Motta ', Ascona. His son Philip born in February. Henceforth family life is to become an aesthetic ideal.

1949 Publishes Art and Science: A Study of Alberti, Piero della Francesca and Ciorgione (Faber), with a dedication to Ann. Refers to this work and the autobiographies that precede and follow it as a trilogy.

1950 His tastes broaden in the fifties to include Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hogarth, Turner, Monet and other artists previously deemed 'modellers'. Moves to Heathgate, a house at Buckleberry, Berkshire.

1951 Buys Hurtwood House, near Guildford, high on Hurtwood Common with seven acres of wild sloping land. One-man show of thirty-five paintings at the Leger Galleries, 20 February-17 March. His daughter Ariadne born in June. Publishes ' A Note on Abstract or Symphonic Ballet ' (Adelphi, XXVII, February); a review of Kenneth Clark's Piero della Francesa ('Piero della Francesca - A Masterpiece ', Spectator, 30 March) and Smooth and Rough (Faber), successor to Inside Out and originally titled ' Outside-in '.

1952 Publishes review of Eric Newton's Tintorreto (' A Study of Tintoretto ', Spectator, 25 January) .Publishes Michelangelo: A Study in the Nature of Art (Tavistock Publications), a work in which the aesthetic of carving and modelling is incorporated into a psycho-analytic dualism derived from Melanic Klein. Its overt psycho-analytic thought loses him the support of many in the art world, including his publisher, Geoffrey Faber, and Kenncth Clark. Also publishes ' Form in Art ' (first drafted in 1931) in New Directions in Psycho-Analysis (edited by Melanie Klein, Paula Heimann, K. E. Money-Kyrle, Tavistock Publications; revised  in the Jouunnl of'Aesthetics and Art Critcism XVIII, 1959) and Raphael, 1483 - /520 (The Faber Gallery).

1956 Moves to 20 Church Row, Hampstead, to be in London for the treatment of Ariadne, diagnosed schizophrenic. Meets many psycho-analysts and starts the Imago Society which was conceived in discussions with the composer Robert Still some years earlier and was to serve as a forum for many of his papers, including ' Psycho-Analytic Reflections on the Development of Ball Games, Particularly Cricket ' (published in International Journal of  Psychoanalysis, (XXXVII, ii-iii). Also publishes 'Seeing as Action ', a review of Rudolph Arnheim's Art and Visual Perception (Encounter, VI, March). Painted at Garda with Lawrence Gowing.

1957 Publishes ' Listening to Cliches and Individual Works ' (International Journal of Psychoanalysis, XXXVIII, vi).

1958 Meets the philosopher Richard Wollheim, at that time working on his F. H. Bradley  (published 1959). Publishes Greek Culture and the Ego: A Psycho-analytic Survey of Creek Civilization and of Art (Tavistock Publications) and Monet 1840 - 1926 (The Faber Gallery) .

I960 Begins seven years as Trustee of the Tate Gallery in October. Turns this experience to aesthetic use in many publications. Publishes 'A Game that Must be Lost ' (International Journal of Psychoanalysis, XXLI, i). Paints in Tenby,Wales in July.

I96I Publishes ' Insight into Analysis ', a review of Klein, Narrative of a Child Analysis, (New Statesman 24 February 1961). Three Essays on the Painting of Our Time (Tavistock Publications); ' The Impact of Architecture ' (British Journal of Aesthetics I, September) and ' Strong Smells and Polite Society ' (Encounter, XVII, September). Also publishes an obituary of Melaine Klein in The Times that year [reference unknown].

I962 Publishes ' Coldstream and the Sitter ', an introduction to exhibition catalogue, William Coldstream (Arts Council) and   ' On Resignation ' (Intemational Journal of Psychoanalysis, XLIII, ii-iii). Makes a plea for the preservation of Venice in a letter with other signatories to The Times, 18 December.

1963 Publishes Painting and the Inner World which includes a dialogue with Donald Meltzer (Tavistock Publications).

1964 Publishes review of Melanie Klein's Our Adult World and Other Essays (Intemational Joumal of Psychoanalysis, XLV, i); ' Living in Ticino, I947-50 ' (Art and Literature, 1. March); 'Early Envy', a review of Hanna Segal's Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein ( The New Statesman, 6 March); 'Herbert Read' (British Joumal of Aesthetics, IV, July) and a review of Monastic Architecture in France from the Renaissance to the Revolution, by Joan Evans (British]oumal of Aesthetics, IV, October). Broadcasts 'Melanie Klein: Some Thoughts on her Work' in an interview with Leonie Cohn for the BBC Third Programme, 17 November. [See Sounds]

1965 In January, exhibits paintings and writes introduction to catalogue of fellow exhibitor, Lawrence Gowing, at the Marlborough Galleries. Is interviewed about his paintings by Guy Burn (' Profile: Adrian Stokes ', The Arts Review, XVIII, January-February). Publishes The Invitation in Art, with a preface by Richard Wollheim (TavistockPublications) and Venice, illustrated by John Piper (Lion and Unicorn Press), an anthology intended for a wide readership. A letter in praise of his writings is published by eighteen distinguished signatories in The Times Literary Supplement, 12 August. Paints in Ventimiglia.

1966 January: Lectures on ' The Image in Form ' at the Slade College of Art. Two paintings included in Survey 66 - Figurative Painters Hampstead Arts Centre, April - May. Publishes ' The Image in Form ' (British Journal of Aesthetics, VI, July; reprinted in Reflections on on the Nude, I967); ' Reflections on the Nude ' (Art and Literature, X, Autumn; revised in Reflections on the Nude) and ' On Being Taken Out of Oneself  ' (International Journal of Psychonalysis, XLVII, iv).

1967 Publishes Reflections on the Nude (Tavistock Publications) and a review of Turner: Imagination and Reality, by Lawrence Gowing (British Joumal of Aesthetics, VII, April). ' After Omnipotence ', review of Donald Meltzer, The Psychoanalytic Process, The Listener, 3 August.

I968 Becomes a prolific poet. Publishes 'Poem: " The start of life resembles trees. .. ." ' (The Listener, 10 October). Exhibits paintings with Keith Vaughan at the Marlborough Galleries in December.

1969 Embarks on a Greek cruise with Ann. Publishes ' Reminiscences ' in Ben Nicholson - A Studio International Special.

1970 Writes Foreward to Barbara Hepworth, exhibition catologue, Marlborough Galleries, repr. in her Pictorial Autobiography, 1973.

1971 Cancer diagnosed. Publishes ' Research into the Deafness of the Mind ', a review of Richard Wollheim's Freud (The Listener, 29 April).

1972 Embarks in April on a second Greek cruise. Publishes ' The Future and Art ' (Studio International, CLXXXV, September) and The Image in Form: Selected Writings of Adrian Stokes, (edited with an introduction by Richard Wollheim; Penguin Books). Dies of a brain tumour, 15 December, two days after finishing his last painting.

1973 Memorial exhibition of his paintings at the Tate Gallery, 21 February-7 March.

Go back to  CONTENTS