This large oil on canvas measures 30”x 40” and is of an East Anglian field by Denis Wirth Miller. As with most Wirth Miller paintings, it is unsigned and in his preferred 1960’s frame.
Wirth Miller attended the East Anglian School of Art at Benton End where he was taught by Cedric Morris and Lett Haines. One of his fellow pupils was Lucian Freud who went on to become one of the most important artist’s of the 20/21 century. After art school they kept in contact but fell out dramatically for an undisclosed reason. The dislike and distain for each other was mutual with Freud referring to Dennis as Worst Miller with Wirth Miller writing lists titled “Reasons I hate Lucian Freud.” Not much love lost there!
In the recent BBC programme Fake or Fortune, an early painting executed at Benton End was discovered by Wirth Miller and his partner Dickie Chopping somewhere in East Anglia. They were convinced this was an early Freud and having seen the picture reproduced, it certainly looks stylistically right. Attempts were made to sell the picture but every Auction house told them it was wrong having consulted Freud. Wirth Miller always believed it was feud between the two men that made Freud disclaim authorship of the work.
Denis Wirth Miller died in 2001 having left the painting to Jon Lys Turner with the explicit instruction: "I want you to sell this picture as publically as possible. I want you to humiliate Lucian Freud."
In the programme much was made of the personal animosity that existed between the two men and Freud’s admitted hatred of being asked if he had painted works or not. In the end the painting was accepted as the genuine article and probably three noughts added to its value.
A fascinating story that shows how people can become obsessed by something as simple as a portrait of a man in a black cravat.
Anthony Mortimer Fine Art. 30 years experience as an art expert and curator.