Born under the reign of Queen Victoria in London in 1883, Lady Dorothy Brett was the daughter of Viscount Esher, a close friend and advisor of the Queen. Brett and her sister took their dancing classes at Windsor Castle. Her first date was with Winston Churchill, and she was presented at Court before she was twenty. Brett never felt quite comfortable in her role as “Lady”, so Dorothy became a Bohemian in the original sense of the word. She chopped off her hair, dressed as she pleased in men’s trousers, and entered the Slade Art School. She studied under Augustus John, and took up with the renowned Bloomsbury Group. Her closest friends were George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell and of course, D.H. and Frieda Lawrence.
When Frieda and D.H. Lawrence were invited to Taos in 1924 by Mabel Dodge, they brought with them their dear friend Lady Dorothy Brett. Brett was forty years old at the time and she adored D.H. Lawrence, however when the Lawrences decided to return to London after only a brief visit, Brett would not give up Taos to follow them. In fact, Brett remained in her beloved Taos until her death in 1977 at the age of ninety-three.
Her six years at the Slade gave her an approach to style, but her art was of herself. Her abundant work includes portraits, Indian dancers, landscapes and mystic or symbolic paintings. They are memorable images, very much connected to her personal emotions and to those of the American Indians whom she so greatly admired.
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