ARTHUR JEFFRESS | Who was Arthur Jeffress?

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ARTHUR JEFFRESS was an art dealer and collector born in England to a wealthy American family who bequeathed his ‘subversive little collection’ to Tate and Southampton City Art Gallery on his suicide aged only 55 in 1961. That suicide, and his expulsion from Venice, appear as speculation in memoirs of many friends and his acquaintances from Peggy Guggenheim and Graham Sutherland to Truman Capote. Gill Hedley’s biography of Jeffress has benefited from access to many hundreds of unpublished letters written between Jeffress and Robert Melville, who ran Jeffress’ gallery from 1955–1961. The letters were written largely while Jeffress was at his summer home in Venice and reveal a vivid picture of the London gallery world as well as frank details of artists, collectors and the definitive story of his suicide. Previously unpublished research reveals much about the lives of Jeffress’ lover John Deakin and his business partner Erica Brausen as well as Jeffress’ role in the world of the Bright Young Things and his extraordinary army life during WWII.

Arthur's manifesto for the gallery