On this Day (1956)

Posted by Tenby Museum on Dec 16, 2017 Blog No Comments

Okay, sorry – I know we are only a handful of days away from Christmas Day and this blog does not possess much (any!) of a Christmas flavour but on this day (16 December) in 1956, Tenby born artist Nina Hamnett died, under tragic circumstances.

Nina had been born at 3 Lexden Terrace, Tenby in 1890.  She had fond memories of her time in the town and wrote about it colourfully in the first part of her autobiography, Laughing Torso (1932).

Nina attended the Pelham School and London School of Art.  By 1911 she was already making her mark in the contemporary art world and as a leading Bohemian personality.  Her talents as a painter and draughtsman made her an important member of the English Modern Movement.  She moved to Paris and socialised with Picasso and Modigliani and James Joyce.  On the publication of Laughing Torso, she became involved in a libel case with notorious self-proclaimed magician Aleister Crwley, which she won.

Hers was a life of excess.  From the 1930s her lifestyle began to take its toll and she would often be found selling stories for drinks in Soho pubs.  In December 1956 she fell forty feet out of the window of her flat, impaling herself on the railings below.  She died three days later, on Sunday 16 December.

The museum has a small collection of Nina’s work and a dress she wore to a fancy dress party in Tenby when she was a young child.  The works are not currently on display but if you wish to see them you are more than welcome to make an appointment.

On 17 March 2018 actor Vanessa Rosenthal will be performing a one woman play based around the life of Nina, at the museum.  Keep an eye out on this website (and museum social media sites) for further information on this.

Nina Hamnett