Self Portrait1905 by John Currie

The lives of artists are a constant source of fascination and the life of Staffordshire born artist of John Currie must rank amongst the highest. Born in 1884 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Currie’s early promise as a painter was cut short by a life marked by the tragedy of loving too hard and too strong.

Despite being married, Currie had met and fallen in love with the 17 year old Dorothy ‘Dolly’ Henry. Dolly was a clothing model in a department store and, although it is not noted how they met, once they did, the tempestuous nature of their relationship quickly escalated. When Currie’s wife discovered the affair, Currie left her and moved in with his siren.

...The art collector and friend, Michael Sadlier wrote of Dolly that she was “of flower-like loveliness, but lascivious and possessive to the last degree.” The pair moved in together in August 1911, but the relationship was rocky to say the least. Dolly would frequently goad Currie to the brink and then retreat in order to win him back, resulting in violent rows.

...the tragedy that was about to unfold was almost inevitable. Fueled by rumors that Dolly had posed for pornographic photographs and was spreading rumors about him, Currie was losing his reason. He wrote to a friend, saying, “A very fury of remorse and love and sorrow is raging in me… I am looking for a place I can bury my heart and forget.”

But, Currie could not forget. On October 8, 1914, Currie made his way to Dolly’s rooms in Chelsea. A series of shots rang out. On investigation, Dolly was found lying dead and Currie was barely alive. Asked why he had done it, he said, “I loved the girl.”

Taken to hospital, Currie lingered for some hours, seemingly unaware of what he had done. Mark Gertler rushed to his hospital bed, quickly followed by Edward Marsh to be with their friend. His dying words were quite simply: “It was all so ugly.”
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