Crème de Menthe and Nicotine ca. 1911.
Austin Osman Spare 1888 - 1956.
Pen and coloured inks. 15 x 18 cm.
The artist A.O. Spare was for a time the protégé
of Marc-André Raffalovich, but his early promise as a draughtsman
was dissipated in later experiments in a form of mystical "automatic
This portrait, also known, from an inscription
on the reverse, added many years later by Spare in ball-point, as
"Soames on a Spree: Recollection of an era", is an intriguing reminder
that at the age of eight the artist had been taken by Raffalovich
to eat chocolate cake at the Café Royal; there he saw Soames
for the first and last time. So impressed was the young Austin by
his glimpse of Soames-in high spirits, for once-emerging out of
the gloom into the light of Regent Street, that in subsequent years
he drew him many times. The strange, momentary association of himself,
the lost poet and the precocious boy led Raffalovich to make his
only recorded mot: with an unusual spark of humour and spontaneity
he remarked to the artist, with what John Gray recalled as a hideous
"So there we all were,
the three spare men of our day!"