RYAN, Adrian James

1920 - 1998

Adrian Ryan

Born at Hampstead on 3 October 1920, son of the landscape and portrait artist Vivian Desmond Ryan [q.v.] and his wife Kathleen Frances née Helps, who married at Croydon in 1917. Adrian was educated at Eton and his childhood was divided between the family homes of Hintlesham Hall, near Ipswich and Villa Santa Lucia at Cagnes-sur-Mer. He studied at the Architectural Association 1938-1939 and the Slade School of Fine Art 1939-1940, during its wartime evacuation to Oxford. He was excused military service on medical grounds and got a head start on his contemporaries by setting himself up as an artist, whilst they were still in uniform. His first studio in Tite Street, Chelsea was shared with Augustus John’s son Edwin. Ryan was taken up by the New Zealand-born dealer Sir Rex Nan Kivell (1898-1977) at the Redfern Gallery, who gave him his first exhibition in 1943 and would be given a further four shows over the following ten years. Ryan was no doubt helped to a degree on his journey by financial security, his grandfather, Sir Gerald Ryan had left a fortune from working in insurance and an inheritance enabled Ryan to assemble an impressive collection of pictures, predominantly of the French painters with whom he felt a special affinity including Bonnard, Modigliani, Utrillo and Soutine. Later the failure of an ambitious farming projects with his older brother Gerald Ellis, obliged him to disperse the collection, and to seek a regular income from teaching. In 1945 Ryan established a studio at Mousehole in Cornwall and became associated with the nearby colony of St Ives painters. In 1948 Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) offered Ryan a post at Goldsmith’s College in South London, a position he held until 1983 and from 1973, he also taught at Cambridge College of Art, a position he retained until 1985 when he retired from teaching. Over the years, he produced landscapes with free, expressive brush strokes of Cornwall, France and later Suffolk and exhibited with the London Group 1942-1943 and at the Royal Academy from 1949. His later solo shows included the University of West Virginia in 1978, Gallery 10 in 1980, a retrospective at The Minories, Colchester in 1985, another with the National Trust 1994 and in 1996, a solo show at Eton College. Adrian Ryan died at Camden Town, London on 15 December 1998 being survived by all three of his wives and by three daughters. (Adrian Ryan: Rather a Rum Life' by Julian Machin 2009).




Works by This Painter