SIR WILLIAM ORPEN, R.A. (1878-1931).
Christie’s Auction – Modern British & Irish Art.
21 November 2019. LOT: 31.
signed ‘ORPEN’ (lower left).
Oil on canvas 28 x 23 inches. (73.1 x 60.7 cm.).
Painted in 1921.
Estimate: £30,000 – £50,000.
Lady Marriott’s collection and by descent to her son, John Oakes Marriott.
A gift from the above to the present owner in 2007.
‘Her routine was the same whether she lived in London, New York, Paris or wartime Cairo. She never rose before lunch. She spent an hour and a half reading in the bath before dinner. She gave luncheons and dinners almost daily and saw a constant stream of visitors in between and well into the night’.
– Julian Amery.
Lady Maud Marriott, better known as ‘Momo’, was born in 1897 in New
Jersey. She was a famously glamorous social figure during the first decades
of the 20th Century. Lady Marriott was the daughter of Otto Herman Kahn,
an American financier, collector, philanthropist and patron of the arts,
who was well known for his ability to entertain celebrities and dignitaries
alike, a quality his daughter inherited. Otto Kahn created such a worldwide
reputation for wealth and grace that it was said that F. Scott Fitzgerald used
him as inspiration for his famous character Jay Gatsby in his novel The Great
In 1920, Momo married John Charles Oakes Marriott, a British Army officer
with an outstanding military career. During the Second World War they lived
in Cairo, where her husband was stationed. She soon became known as one
of the greatest society hostesses and organised a multitude of parties for
the flourishing society out there and her husband’s Officers. One of these
Officers was Evelyn Waugh, who later used her character in one of his novels.
Although Lady Marriott was thought to have numerous flirtations due to her
lifestyle, she was particularly close to Randolph Churchill, son of Winston
Churchill, a fact that allowed Cairene society to believe they were lovers.
Julian Amery, a close friend of hers, recalled, ‘Her routine was the same
whether she lived in London, New York, Paris or wartime Cairo. She never
rose before lunch. She spent an hour and a half reading in the bath before
dinner. She gave luncheons and dinners almost daily and saw a constant
stream of visitors in between and well into the night. She was, as a result,
In 1942, after a long series of parties, she returned to England, where her
husband had been recalled. Sir Miles Lampson, British ambassador to Egypt
wrote, ‘Cairo will hardly be the same place without Momo and her salon’.
Lady Marriott settled in London, where she continued to live her lavish life
until she passed away in 1960.
It is recorded that William Orpen painted Lady Marriott’s painting in 1921 for
which he was paid £1,500. Her name appears in the Studio Book as ‘Miss
Kahn (Mrs Marriott)’, alongside her father’s, Otto Kahn, who was painted at
the same time.
Above text from Christie’s Catalogue.
William Orpen painted both Otto Hermann Kahn and his daughter Maud Emily Wolff (Kahn) Marriott (Momo) in Deauville, France. The painting of Otto is untraced.
William Orpen would visit the Deauville Casino with Yvonne Aupicq and after his death (1931) there was an unfinished painting of Deauville Casino listed in his effects.
Post by Dominic Lee.