2 November 1894|
25 February 1978|
Hadleigh, Suffolk, England
|Resting place||Friars Road Cemetery, Hadleigh, Suffolk, England|
Arthur Lett-Haines (1894 – 25 February 1978), known as Lett Haines, was a British painter and sculptor who experimented in many different media, though he generally characterised himself as "an English surrealist". He was part of a London artistic circle, which included D. H. Lawrence, the Sitwells and Wyndham Lewis, but for most of his life lived with the painter and gardener Cedric Morris in Cornwall, Paris and finally Suffolk.
Arthur Lett was born 2 November 1894, at 9 Walterton Road, Paddington, London, the son of Charles Lett and Frances Laura Esme Lett (who afterwards married S. Sidney Haines). He was educated at St Paul's School, London.
In the First World War he served in the British Army. In 1916 Lett-Haines married (as his second wife; he had been left a widower whilst still a teenager) Michigan-born Gertrude Aimee Lincoln (n.b.- some online sources claim she was granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln, but she appears in none of the many comprehensive genealogies of his family, e.g. Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America, ed. Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, 1981, Abraham Lincoln pedigree, so can be considered inaccurate) at Hailsham, but when he met the painter Cedric Morris in 1918, the latter moved in with them and in 1919 his wife Aimee returned on her own to America. Morris and Lett-Haines lived together until his death, Haines largely subordinating his own artistic career to promote that of his partner. This relationship lasted some 60 years, despite its open nature that included attachments on both sides such as Haines' affair with the artist and author Kathleen Hale.
After initially living at Newlyn, they moved to Paris in 1920, becoming part of an expatriate artistic community that included Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Nancy Cunard and Ernest Hemingway. They returned briefly to London in 1926, before moving in 1929 to Suffolk.
In 1937, Morris and Haines founded the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Dedham. When it burned down in 1939, the school was relocated to Benton End, a large house near Hadleigh. Operating on a live-in basis that mingled artistic development with a social circle, its pupils included Lucian Freud, Bettina Shaw-Lawrence, David Kentish, Maggi Hambling, David Carr, Joan Warburton and Glyn Morgan. He exhibited at the Ipswich Art Club in 1942 Parmi Les Fleurs.
The school closed when Haines died in 1978, though Morris continued to live at Benton End until his death in 1984. They are buried near each other at Hadleigh Cemetery in Hadleigh.
Portraits of Lett-Haines
A sandstone portrait sculpture exists of Lett-Haines by John Skeaping dating from 1933. This work came about after the break-up of Skeaping's marriage to Barbara Hepworth, when Skeaping joined the artists' colony at Morris's house at Higham, Suffolk. A portrait of Lett-Haines by New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins is held at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.
- Deaths, The Times, 2 March 1978
- "Morris: More than a minor talent", Visual art, John Russell Taylor, The Times, London, 11 December 2002
- "Suffolk Painters". suffolkpainters.co.uk/. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- An Elusive Tradition: Art and Society in Wales, Eric Rowan and Carolyn Stewart, University of Wales Press, 2002, p. 188
- The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the last 100 Years, Emmanuel Cooper, Routledge, 1986
- Richard Morphet Cedric Morris The Tate Gallery 1984 ISBN 0-946590-06-0
- Cooper, Emmanuel (1994), The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West, Routledge, pp. 152–5, ISBN 0-415-11101-3
- "About Us". Colchester Art Society. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- John Skeaping 1901–1980: Retrospective Catalogue, Arthur Ackermann (1991) p.39
- "Collections Online - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa". collections.tepapa.govt.nz. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- Richard Morphet, "Morris, Sir Cedric Lockwood, ninth baronet (1889–1982)", rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 27 Nov 2007
- Arthur Lett-Haines: With Cedric Morris and Lett-Haines, James Beechey, catalogue of Kathleen Hale 1898–2000 – Memorial Exhibition, Michael Parkin Fine Art and The Redfern Gallery, 2001
- Benton End Remembered: Cedric Morris, Arthur Lett-Haines and the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing. Gwynneth Reynolds, Diana Grace and Richard Morphet, Unicorn Press, 2002, ISBN 0-906290-69-4