Who Was Gerald Murphy

For one thing, Gerald Murphy was a real person. He and his wife Sara had a lasting effect on both culture and the holidaying habits of the rich.

At a time when elderly Brits would frequent the South of France to escape the winters back home, the Murphys took up residence in an elegant mansion on Cap d’Antibes and held numerous soirees with the glitterati of the day including Pablo Picasso, Dorothy Parker and Fernand Leger.

His artistic output was not high with only 12 paintings know to his name of which only 7 survive in US galleries (see below):

He was obviously influenced by his artistic friends such as Leger while some of his later, less mechanical works appeared to enjoy the influence of Picasso.

‘Contrast of Forms’: Fernand Leger (1912) Guggenheim Museum, New York


‘Watch’: Gerald Murphy (1925) – Dallas Museum of Art

For the novel ‘The October Men’, I created a ‘lost’ masterpiece that predated and presaged his meticulously detailed picture ‘Cocktail’. The fictional painting was named after Murphy’s favourite cocktail: The Juice of a Few Flowers. With prohibition still in force in the US, Murphy’s pleasure in alcohol could only be indulged in the hot and glamorous environs of the French Riviera.

As for the missing works of art, photos of them exist – they were exhibited in Paris in the 1920s. However, whether they are still out there somewhere or were consumed by the fires of war or the ravages of time, no one knows.

That said, I’ve started scouring the less frequented antique shops because… you never know…

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