I find these photographs both charming in themselves and very evocative. A group of young gay men enjoying the freedom of an afternoon party in an English garden. So much of the imagery around pre-war gay culture is secretive and “after dark” that these portraits seem very refreshing. Arthur Jeffress is central to the Barney case, Eliot Hodgkin painted the most fascinating picture of her. The others may not have known her at all but my guess is that they would have been  very familiar with the worlds of The Blue Lantern and The Blue Angel.

Guy Osborn; Budge Fraser; Arthur Jeffress; Eliot Hodgkin and friends, by Unknown photographer, 1930s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Budge Fraser; Eliot Hodgkin; Guy Osborn; Arthur Jeffress and friends, by Unknown photographer, 1930s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Guy Osborn; Budge Fraser; Arthur Jeffress and friends, by Unknown photographer, 1930s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Arthur Jeffress; Budge Fraser; Guy Osborn; Eliot Hodgkin; and friends, by Unknown photographer, 1930s - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Where,when exactly (some time in the late 1920s, I’m told on good authority) and by whom these snaps were taken is a bit of mystery, In the pictures are Arthur Jeffress (1904-1961), Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) , John “Budge” Fraser (1906 -1977) and Guy Osborn. I think Michael Sherard (1910-1999) is there too -either in front of or behind the camera. Jeffress was to become one of the most significant art dealers and gallery owners in London, Hodgkin is today best remembered for his still-life works in tempera and Sherard and Fraser ran a successful dress design and costumier business (Sherard was the designer).

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