LETT-HAINES, Arthur

1894 - 1978

Arthur Lett Haines

As Arthur Lett, he was born at 9 Walterton Road, Paddington, London on 2 November 1894, son of Arthur Lett and his wife Frances Laura Esme née Orchard (14 April 1871-12 January 1959), who married at Hampstead, London in 1892 and divorced in 1898, when Frances married secondly in 1900, Sydney Haines. In 1901, a 5[sic] year old, living at 9 Walterton Road with his step-father, 29 year old Arthur Haines, a baker, and Arthur's mother 30 year old Frances with his two siblings, Frances May 4 and Sidney Charles 3. Lett-Haines was educated at St Paul's School in London and in 1911, initially intended for a farming occupation, was a 16 year old farm pupil on the farm of Henry Charles Frank at Poslingford Hall, Clare, Suffolk. During the First World War Arthur served as an officer in the Royal Field Artillery after which he involved himself with the artistic set including Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890-1954), John Middleton Murry (1889-1957), Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), 'Katharine Mansfield' (1888-1923), David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) and the three Sitwells. On 20 September 1916, 2nd Lieut. Lett-Haines, who had been wounded in Mesopotamia, married at Hellingly Parish Church near Eastbourne, Sussex, Gertrude Aimes/Aimee Lincoln (9 July 1885/95-31 October 1864) of Los Angeles, California, reputably the grand-daughter of President Abraham Lincoln, but in 1918, after he met painter Cedric Morris [q.v.], who had moved in with them at Wilmington, Sussex, in April the following year his wife returned to America when Morris and Lett-Haines, although a stormy partnership, lived together as lovers for some sixty years. A British painter and sculptor who experimented in many different media, though he generally characterised himself as ‘an English surrealist’. In September 1919, both Lett-Haines and Morris exhibited at the London Salon and after initially living at Newlyn where they exhibited at the Opie Memorial Gallery, in 1920 they moved to Paris becoming part of an expatriate artistic community that included Juan Gris (1887-1927), Fernard Léger (1881-1955), Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Man Ray (1890-1976), Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) and Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Lett Haines and Morris briefly returned to Wilmington, Sussex in 1926, before moving to Suffolk in 1929 and Lett-Haines, largely subordinating his own artistic career to promote that of his partner Cedric, despite its open nature that included attachments on both sides such as Lett-Haines's affair with the artist and author Kathleen Hale (1898-2000). In 1937 Morris and Lett-Haines founded the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Dedham, Essex and after it burned down in 1939, the school was relocated to Benton End, a mansion near Hadleigh, Suffolk the running of which was left to Lett-Haines. Like his friend, Suffolk school owner John Middleton Murry, Lett Haines gave his students freedom to develop along independent lines and Haines himself was a less consistent painter than Morris and his work had a strong linear element. Operating on a live-in basis that mingled artistic development with a social circle, its pupils included Lucian Freud [q.v.], Bettina Shaw-Lawrence [q.v.], David Kentish [q.v.], Maggi Hambling [q.v.], David Carr [q.v.], Joan Warburton [q.v.] and Glyn Morgan [q.v.]. The school closed when Lett-Haines died on 25 February 1978, although Morris continued to live at Benton End until his death in 1984. Lett-Haines exhibited at the Ipswich Art Club in 1942 'Parmi Les Fleurs' and a retrospective exhibition was held at Redfern Gallery in 1984 and a joint Morris-Haines 'Teaching Art and Life' exhibition at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery 2002-2003.




Works by This Artist