Period: Inner worlds

Ford playing solitaire Ford playing solitaire
painted in Paris, 1927
oil on wood panel 41.2 x 32.8 cm
not signed, not dated
private collection

After the collapse of his literary journal, Transatlantic review, Ford kept up an active schedule, travelling between France and America, where his writing and lectures became increasingly popular and where he developed a brief attachment to a middle-aged widow, Rene Wright. He returned to Bowen in Paris in 1928 and proposed that he maintain both relationships. Bowen refused and they separated on reasonably amicable terms.

Bowen painted this work while Ford was in the United States. The subject – and indeed, the title – of the painting reveals Bowen’s awareness of Ford’s increasingly separate life.

Sisley Huddleston observed that Bowen has captured Ford in a state of “passive receptivity”, having hypnotized himself this way so that he could write: “Most of us who are writing men have some such device for bringing our subjective mind to work.”