The son of the author Sir Edward Strachey (1812-1901) and cousin of writer and Bloomsbury Group founder Lytton Strachey, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and exhibited works at a number of London dealers and public galleries.
Although he also became the art critic of The Spectator magazine in 1896 and wrote a study of Raphael for George Bell & Sons’ ‘Great Masters’ series, information about his work as an artist is surprisingly scarce.
He is known to have painted landscapes with figures as well as a few portraits – including two of his father which were kept at the family home at Sutton Court near Bristol; one of Rudyard Kipling as well as another of the young Brenda Pye (née Capron).
House clearance find
However, a self-portrait that emerged at Burstow & Hewett (20% buyer’s premium) in Battle, East Sussex, on November 18 underlined his talents. The 18in x 14¼in (46 x 36cm) signed oil on canvas was dated 1893. It came from a recent house clearance and was in generally good original condition, although it had some light crazing, but with the paint stable.
Estimated at £500-700, it was knocked down at £1600 to an English collector. The price was the fourth highest for Strachey at auction – the record is $8000 (£5040) for the larger landscape The apple harvest that sold at Bonhams New York in October 2010. It was also well above the £600 for a portrait of his father that sold at Mellors & Kirk in June 2016.
The buyer of the portrait at Burstow & Hewett told ATG that this “well painted, interesting image” was the first self-portrait by the artist he was aware of and he believes it to date from c.1900. He plans to do some further research and then hang it on a wall.