The Canterbury Auction Galleries To Stage Studio Sale Of The Works Of Colin Colahan (1897-1987) On April 16-17 The Canterbury Auction Galleries, Kent, will conduct the Studio Sal of Australian artist Colin Colahan (1897-1987), consigned by his widow, Monique, who llives in the UK.
Garry Kinnade describes Colahan as a painter of "outstanding ability and reputation". Colin Cuthbert Orr Colahan (1897-1987) was born at Woodend, Victoria, New South Wales, the fifth of six children of John Joseph Aloysius Colahan (1836-1918), an Irish-born, retired surgeon major general in the British Army, and his wife Eliza Newton, née Orr (1861-1899), who was born in Australia.
He attended Xavier College, Melbourne, and contributed humorous cartoons to the Xaverian and Bulletin magazines. In 1916, he enrolled in medicine at the University of Melbourne but he left the following year to study painting and drawing at the National Gallery Schools. He soon moved on to Max Meldrum's school, adopting his teacher's practice of tonal realism, and editing Max Meldrum, His Art and Views (c.1919), to promote the latter's theories. Colahan's work was first shown publicly as part of an exhibition by `Meldrumites' at the Athenaeum Gallery in 1919.
He married Violet Winifred Lester in 1921 and the couple had a son, David (d.1945), before being divorced in 1931. From 1921-27, the couple lived and travelled in England, France and Spain, Colahan studying the classical masters and developing his technique and showing his work in London and Paris.
He returned to Melbourne, where his reputation grew and his work matured. His subjects included landscapes, streetscapes, portraits and nude studies, and his exhibitions generated favourable reviews and good sales.
Quick, skilful and full of Irish wit and charm, physically he was small and attractive to women. One of these was Mireille Wilkinson, the French wife of an Australian economist, Launcelot Wilkinson, by whom Colahan had two sons.
In 1931, Colahan was shaken by the brutal murder of another of his lovers, the model Mary (`Mollie') Dean, and further distressed by the inquest and publicity that followed.
In 1935 Colahan suddenly departed for England, where he built a reputation as a portrait painter. His more notable subjects included George Bernard Shaw, Charmian Clift and Sir Malcolm Sargent. In 1939, he married 23-year-old Ursula Nora Winifred Marx. They had two daughters and lived in the White House, Tite Street, Chelsea, formerly owned by James McNeill Whistler.
The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, appointed Colahan an official war artist in 1942 and directed him to cover the activities of his country's armed services, especially the Royal Australian Air Force, in Britain and Europe. This commission (terminated in 1945) resulted in some of his best paintings, such as `Ballet of Wind and Rain' and `Waterloo Station'; these two and eighty-eight more of his works are held by the AWM. He became the first president of the Australian Artists' Association, London, in 1952. (It was the artist's copy of 'Ballet of Wind and Rain' that The Canterbury Auction Galleries sold for £14,000).
Moving to Italy in 1958, Colahan built La Mortola, a house at Mortola Superiore, near Ventimiglia. He was divorced from Ursula in 1967 and later that year in Nice, he married his widow, Monique Eliza Bornoff, (née Hazelden), a 52-year-old divorcee.