THE FOUNTAINS AT TIVOLI, LAZIO
Signed, titled & dated l.l. 1958
Watercolour with pen and ink, heightened with bodycolour
51 x 34 cm
Edgar Louis Vanderstegen Millington-Drake was born in London, the fourth child of Sir Eugen and Lady Effie Millington-Drake, an aristocratic and bohemian couple. His father served as Minister in the British Embassy in Uruguay from 1934-1940 and his Mother was an heiress who lived an extravagant life, travelling to Paris with a retinue of staff in order to view the Fashion houses' collections there on a regular basis. The designers of these collections would often send watercolour sketches of that season's clothes, and it was these which first inspired the infant Teddy to become an artist.
The family returned to England during the War and Teddy attended Eton, where he spent much of his time in the Art Schools under the tutelage of the art historian Wilfred Blunt, brother of the now infamous Anthony Blunt. He went up to Oxford, and then joined the Rifles for his National Service. His first major trip abroad independently was to the Near and Middle East, travelling through Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran and on to India. His journey was a comfortable one and, thanks to his father's reputation, he enjoyed the hospitality of diplomats along the way. The experience was a revelation for him and led to a lifelong fascination with Islamic architecture and the cultures of the nations he visited.
He moved to Italy, living in Este (the Veneto) and socialising in the society circles of Venice, which included Peggy Guggeheim, Daisy Fellowes and Elsa Maxwell among others. One of his early friends was Bruce Chatwin, the travel writer who had then recently left Sotheby's, and the two were an influence upon each other's careers and arts.
His next home was in Patmos, an island then largely unknown by Western tourists, and he purchased two large 17th century houses here which were converted into a sprawling home, filled with the acquisitions from Teddy's travels. Here he also set up a studio, and painted landscapes, cityscapes and ceramic designs among other projects. He exhibited largely in London, New York and Bombay, and while his characteristic topographical style (as shown in the present work to great effect) was his recurring manner, he also painted large abstracts influenced by Cy Twombly and Jackson Pollock (both of whom he knew well from their time in Rome), acrylic wave paintings and even a number of calligraphic works, as well as graphic designs for carpets and ceramics in elegant and simple geometric shapes.