Around the time of that horror beyond horror that was the Second World War, an English artist called David Jagger painted a series of portraits of unidentified persons who may or may not have lived through it.
Like this Jewish girl, a refugee in Vienna, 1938. I love the scarf, but it is her hands which say the most.
An unidentified officer of the RAF, during World War 2. I wonder if he survived the war?
An officer of the Welsh Guards, also unknown.
What all these people have in common is that they look scared. I’m not surprised, given what they were facing into. I hope they made it through.
Sometimes the essence of a subject eludes an artist, no matter how good, and so it was with Jagger and Vivien Leigh, his lovely portrait of her just narrowly failing to capture her vixen allure. Perhaps Viv, the chameleon so many different things to so many different people that she never discovered quite what she was herself, hid her rapacious gaze during sittings all the better to unleash it to devastatingly upstaging effect in the photograph below?
But even if he couldn’t see the steel behind their sweetly submissive gaze, Jagger certainly did his female subjects’ clothes justice. His portraits of society women contain some of the most beautiful depictions of between-the-wars clothing to be seen in any paintings of that era.
Love the feather, the hat, the fur and the gloves and how they balance one another out.
Another scarf. Jagger loved his scarves.
An elegant lady indeed. What gorgeous teal green!
And this orange dress. Erm. Fascinating. If rather blocky. It was the era of masculine tailoring and flat chests, after all. But still.
Was this Jagger related to that other androgynous scarf-wearing one? Quite possibly. Mick’s father came from Morley in Yorkshire. This Jagger was from Rotherham, not too far away. And they shared the same first name (not that prevalent a first name, David, in the Yorkshire of that era). So quite possibly related, though I can’t say for sure. They certainly both had an eye for colour. And androgyny. And scarves.