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Percy Kelly 1918-1993

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Percy Kelly - Bridge and Cumbria Cottage

Bridge and Cumbria Cottage, 1983

Illustrated Letter
13 x 8 ins (33.02 x 20.32 cms)
Signed "Roberta"

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General Notes

Mary Burkett was a recognised world authority on Cumbrian Art and for 20 years was director of Abbots Hall gallery in Kendal. She was a great supporter of the troubled artist Percy Kelly and he corresponded with her regularly in the form of painted letters. This is one of the letters he wrote to her from his house in Nortfolk.

Percy Kelly, like Theodore Major rejected numerous approaches from important galleries to show his paintings and he only sold a small number of works during his lifetime.

Kelly's life, even without the painting would have been remarkable: soldier - he had late-night chats with Churchill in his bunker - footballer, postman, mechanic, teacher, transvestite. His alternate persona was Roberta and this is how he has signed this letter to Mary Burkett.

He left his glamorous first wife and eloped with his ophthalmologist's wife to a cold and miserable cottage in Pembroke, where he wrote many of letters to Mary Burkett. He moved to Norfolk and, living alone, died of cancer in 1993.

Despite the hardship, the nervous breakdowns, the despair, the complex personality, it was a life lived with an obsessive tenacity and intensity. The book Dear Mary, Love Percy: A Creative Thread - The Illustrated Letters of Percy Kelly to Mary Burkett is available from the gallery.


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