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Diana Wynyard in the Silent Knight

Ethel Leontine Gabain, 1938 first exhibited

WAG 952

About this object

This painting is by the successful painter and lithographer Ethel Léontine Gabain. She was one of the only artists of her time able to make a living through sales of lithographs alone. Gabain was among the founding members of the Senefelder Club, which aimed to promote lithography. She specialised in portraits of actresses, such as this one, showing the iconic British actress Diana Wynyard (born in 1906, died in 1964).

Wynyard was a highly successful English actress of stage and screen. In 1932, she was signed to a contract at MGM. She starred in Rasputin and the Empress (1932) and in Noël Coward's Cavalcade (1933), for which she received an Academy Award nomination. After her brief stint in Hollywood, she returned to England, moving between film and stage roles. 'The Silent Knight' was a romantic comedy in three-acts, which appeared at St James Theatre during the 1937-38 season.

Wynyard was married to the English film director Sir Carol Reed (born in 1906, died in 1976) from 1943 until 1947. She later married the Hungarian physician, Tibor Csato (born in 1906, died in 2003). However, Wynyard was also rumoured to be a member of an elite Hollywood network of closeted lesbian and bisexual actresses, referred to by Marlene Dietrich (born in 1901, died in 1992) as the 'Sewing Circle'. The Circle gathered at each other's houses. This provided a safe space for these actresses to meet and talk openly about their sexual and romantic interest in other women. The best known members of the Sewing Circle, were Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and the openly lesbian, poet and playwright, Mercedes de Acosta (born in1893, died in 1968).

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    Ethel Léontine Gabain (British: English; French, born:1883-03-26, died:1950-01-30)
  • Date
    1938 first exhibited
  • Materials
    Oil; Canvas
  • Measurements
    101.5 x 76.2 x 5.5 cm; framed: 121.3 x 96.5 cm
  • Physical description
  • Related people
    Ethel Léontine Gabain (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 952
  • Credit line
    Purchased 1938
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: MISS DIANA WYNWARD IN THE SILENT KNIGHT. ETHEL GABAIN MRS JOHN COPLEY 10 Hampstead Square N. W. 3 (on back of stretcher)
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  • Inscription text: E. GABAIN. (bottom right)
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  • Inscription text: Geo Rowney Quality F... London W
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Object view = Fine Art
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