Major E. O. Kay

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Major E. O. Kay

Major E. O. Kay (aka Portrait of a Man Wearing a Monocle), c.1935
Pencil, 28.9 cm x 23.9 cm

Edwin Ody Kay (1885–1969) was born in Worcester, the second son of William Kilbourne Kay, the founder of the mail-order company Kay & Co. Ltd. He was educated at Bromsgrove School, and served with the South Staffordshire Regiment during the First World War, towards the end of which he was captured at bayonet point by the Germans and held prisoner until the Armistice. On leaving the army he joined the family firm, becoming chairman and joint managing director following the death of his elder brother in 1933. When a majority shareholding was sold to Great Universal Stores Ltd, he retired and devoted himself to art, cricket and fine wine, and became a benevolent uncle to younger members of his family; he never married. He at one point owned a house opposite the Ascot racecourse, and a racehorse that never seem to win very much despite the money spent on its training and upkeep. His art collection included pictures by Sickert, Clausen, Augustus John, Tristram Hillier and Paul Nash, as well as supposed works by Constable, Rembrandt and Monet which proved not to be genuine when they were put up for sale. In 1943 he commissioned Stanley Spencer to paint his portrait.
PROVENANCE: Christie's 25 Oct. 2011 (£2,125) > Abbott and Holder

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