Tomas Harris created a lot of art, of many kinds, including ceramics, oil paintings, engravings, dry points, lithographs, watercolours, sketches and also tapestries (View my Tomas Harris ART Gallery, showing almost 200 pieces <—click here ).

Tomas wanted to try his hand at making tapestries just like Goya Francisco did, using the same weavers that Goya had used. Goyas’ exclusive tapestries were all made at the Royal Factory in Madrid, so that was why Tomas had his three made there too.

So in the early 1950’s Tomas created three cartoons (the weavers use these as blueprints) and had a tapestry woven for each one.  It was a very lengthy and expensive process.

Tapestry Loom at the Royal Factory in MadridTapestry Loom

Bristol Museum with signature of weaver (bottom right margin)<— This is one of the woven tapestries which is now (in all its glory, and in colour) at the Bristol Museum at the time of writing, but is not currently on public display. Notice the weavers personal signature woven into the fabric (bottom right).

This image is shown in the 1975 Courtauld Exhibition Catalogue - Cacti - Cartoon for a tapestry,  dated January, 1955The Factory had some kind of official state support under Franco, but in recent years the owners have been trying to sell it without much success.

 

In 1955, Tomas organised and held an exhibition for his tapestries, in Madrid, with a  famous speaker friend of his,  Valentine de Sambricio, who was an Art Historian.. The exhibition provided information about the process of creating the tapestries, and how the weavers signature came to be in the border of the final pieces.  The photos of the looms above are rare and the looms were part of the exhibits in the exhibition.

Today the thee tapestries are in museums around the world, one in Spain, one in England, and one in Australia.

Bristol Museum with sig

 

This Tapestry is held at the Bristol Museum in England, but is not on public display.

Tapestry woven at the Royal Factory Spain (2)

 

This tapestry is at the museum in Seville, Museo de Sevilla.

 

 

 

 

Tapestry woven at the Royal Factory Spain (3)

The third tapestry is at a museum in Melbourne, at the National Gallery of Victoria (Victoria State Gallery). It was gifted to the museum by Tomas’s three sisters (Enriqueta, Conchita and Violeta Harris) after the 1975 Tomas Harris Courtauld Exhibition. (The introduction in the catalogue for the 1975 exhibition was written by the well known Anthony Blunt <— read the introduction

 

Tomas was well known and respected in the Art World – worldwide.

 

DSCN3536

Apparently, last year, 2009, an exhibition of modern tapestries made by the Royal Factory in Madrid, was held, and a catalogue was produced.  Unfortunately, there was no mention of Tomas Harris in it, and so it has been assumed that it is very likely that Tomas had actually commissioned the tapestries to be made at the factory.

Subscribe to Email updates <— here, to stay informed.

I am currently hoping to receive new information about these tapestries from a major expert on tapestries in Spain, who will be visiting the museum in Seville in the near future, and who has very  detailed knowledge of the history of the Madrid factory and currently works as curator of the Royal Tapestry collection at the Palace in Madrid.   I will update this post if/when I receive further information.

Bristol Museum, in England National Gallery of  Victoria in MelbourneSeville Museum, in Spain

This is the Introduction written by ANTHONY BLUNT in the catalogue for the Tomas Harris Art Exhibition held in 1975 at the Courtauld Institute in London in memory of Tomas Harris

———————————————————-

The first thing that struck one about Tomas Harris was the total enthusiasm  with which he threw himself into any enterprise on which he embarked. Whether it was discovering an unknown painting by El Greco in an obscure Spanish collection, mastering a new painting technique, scrutinizing Goya’s etchings or exploiting the possibilities of an intelligence scheme against the Nazis. At that particular moment all his energies and all his imaginative force went into that one objective, which did not prevent him, a day – or an hour – later, when that particular problem had been solved, from turning with equal enthusiasm to one of his other interests, or simply to an activity in which he was an expert, entertaining his friends.

Tomas was one of the most complete human beings I have ever known. He will be mainly remembered as someone who was an expert on Spanish art, particularly on the art of El Greco and Goya, but his range of interests was much wider than that. In the arts his natural gifts were almost frightening. In 1923 he was awarded the Trevelyn-Goodall scholarship at the Slade School in London, only to find that, as he was only 15, he was theoretically too young to be eligible. In later life he had only to take up some technique – in painting, engraving, sculpture, or ceramics, to find that in a very short time he had mastered the problems involved and could use the technique with as much skill as the accepted experts. Indeed it may have been this virtuosity which prevented him from attaining in his art that concentration which was essential if his ideas were to receive complete expression. Variety of invention, range and brilliance of technique, vigour of expression – these are the qualities which stand out from the works here listed, whether in painting, engravings, sculpture, glass or ceramics.

But his art was only a part of his life.  His activities as a picture-dealer were brilliantly successful and were combined with a reputation for absolute probity which sometimes aroused jealousy among his competitors. His warmth and generosity brought him a wide circle of friends in varied fields – the art world, business, and government departments.  He was not in the strict sense of the word an intellectual, but his intuition was uncanny and having made a discovery by instinct he knew how to follow it up and consolidate it by reasoning and accumulation of evidence. It is characteristic that one of his most important acquisitions during his life as an art-dealer – a series of fifteenth-century German panels, which had incidentally once been in the National Gallery – was bought among the contents of an out-house at a country sale. Another instance was in the magnificent pair of ???????, now in the Courtauld Institute Galleries, which he saw, totally repainted, in a sale, and bought because when he opened them they smelled old.

Tomas was born in 1908, the son of an English father and a Spanish mother. His father, Lionel Harris, founded the Spanish Art Gallery, and it is no exaggeration to say that for half a century all the most important works of art which were brought to the UK from Spain came through him or, after his retirement, through Tomas. He was among the first English dealers to realise the importance of El Greco, and he also owned masterpieces by artists such as Velazquez and Goya. His interests, however, were not limited to the painting, and in his gallery one would be certain of seeing magnificent medieval tapestries, Oriental carpets and Renaissance gold and silver work.

Tomas was, therefore, brought up in an atmosphere which made him appreciate beautiful things, but his own inclination was to become a practising artist rather than a dealer. His early acceptance into the Slade School in London looked like the beginning of a brilliant career and was followed by a year studying painting and sculpture at the British Academy in Rome, where he learnt nothing from the teaching but had the opportunity to absorb all that Rome had to offer to a young art student. In 1930, however, he decided to go into art-dealing, first running a firm on his own and later joining his father as a director of the Spanish Art Gallery.

At the outbreak of war Tomas joined the War office, where his intimate knowledge of Spain was of great value. His greatest achievement, however, was as one of the principle organisers of what has been described as the greatest double-cross operation of the war – ‘Operation Garbo’ – which seriously misled the Germans about the Allied plans for the invasion of France. The story has been told,  in the semi-official account of the double-cross network, but in fact the success of the operation was mainly due to the extraordinary imaginative power with which Tomas directed it. In fact, he ‘lived’ the deception, to the extent that, when he was talking in the small circle of people concerned, it was difficult to tell whether he was talking about real events or one of the fantastic stories which he had just put across to the Nazi-Intelligence Service. After the invasion of France one of the highest commanders said that the Garbo operation was worth an armoured division. Tomas’s imagination could be turned to practical as well as artistic ends.

After the war he decided to give up art-dealing and devote himself to his two real passions: painting and collecting. Even during the war he had not entirely abandoned painting and in 1943, in spite of his other activities, he held a one-man show. This exhibition, in the constricted galleries of Reid and Lefevre, then in King Street, St James’s, was impressive and even somewhat frightening through the sheer nervous intensity of the paintings, which reflected the strain under which Tomas was living and working.

Once he had freed himself from his commitments as a dealer he spent more and more time in Spain, first in Malaga and Madrid and later in Mallorca where he built himself a house at Camp de Mar. He drew a great deal of inspiration from the landscape of Mallorca and many of the landscapes in the present exhibition are of scenes near Camp de Mar. To most observers the technique of these paintings – and of much of his earlier work – is strongly reminiscent of Van Gogh, but, if one suggested this to him, he absolutely denied ever having intended to imitate this artist.

In the years before the war Tomas’s interests had been mainly directed towards painting, but he now began to experiment in a much wider range of media, including etching, ceramics, stained glass, and tapestry. In the field he had the extraordinary privalege of being the first independent artist since Goya to have his cartoons woven at the Royal Tapestry Factory in Madrid. It is in these weeks that his astonishing versatility is most brilliantly displayed.

While devoting a great deal of his time to his activities as a creative artist, Tomas was also able to develop his interest in collecting. During his years of art-dealing he had brought together certain groups of works of art, particularly drawings, textiles and jewellery, and he now began to study these in a much more systematic way. The textiles consisted of pieces – large or small – of embroideries, brocades, figured silk dresses and waistcoats, or panels from ecclesiastical vestments, dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, mainly Spanish, Italian, or French in origin. Tomas framed these fragments in cardboard mounts, like huge drawings, and organised them into a series which illustrated some of the most important aspects of silk-weaving and embroidery over three centuries. A selection of these was shown at the Courtauld Institute Galleries in 1968, and later, his family presented the whole of this magnificent collection to the Courtauld Institute in his memory.

His first collection made from scratch, so to speak, was of drawings and etchings by  Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo,  and the discriminating taste with which he selected these came out very clearly when the collection was shown at the Arts Council Gallery in St James’s Square in 1955. Next he turned his attention to Durer and rapidly formed an outstanding collection of his woodcuts and engravings. He also began to interest himself in Rembrandt etchings, but his death prevented him from carrying this collection very far.

By far his greatest achievement as a collector and as a scholar was however connected with Goya. He began with a plan to make as complete a collection as possible of the artists etchings and lithographs, but gradually he became involved in a project of quite a different kind. Looking for information to the accepted authority on the subject, he discovered that the more he read the more mistakes he detected: and so he found himself gradually forced into the position of having to do Delteil’swork over again and prepare his own catalogue. The result was the two-volume work which appeared a year after his death. In this book he showed that Delteil’s account was not merely inaccurate, but basically wrong, and that in addition to confusing different impressions and issues he had invented a number which in fact never existed. Tomas’s practical knowledge of etching, in which he had taken a course at the Slade School after the war, was of the greatest value to him, and he was helped by the lynx-eye of his collaborator, Juliet Wilson, who could spot a touch of dry-point so small that no one else could detect it without a glass. In many ways this book was his greatest achievement:  it contained an analysis of the various states of the etchings, of a kind that could only be made by someone who knew the techniques involved and who could study the originals at leisure in his own collection: and this analysis led to a completely new estimate of Goya’s method of working. The brilliant photographs of details from the etchings, which Tomas made himself,  illustrate in the most cogent manner points which he made in the text.

In 1954 part of Tomas’s collection of Goya etchings was shown at the Arts Council Gallery, but far more important was the great exhibition held at the British Museum in 1963-1964 which was almost entirely drawn from Tomas’s collection. This collection, which was described by Mr Edward Croft-Murray, then Keeper of Prints and Drawings, as ‘the richest and most complete of its kind ever to be assembled’ was placed on indefinite loan at the British Museum Print Room, and recently Tomas’s family have offered it to the museum as a permanent memorial to him. To celebrate this magnificent gift a selection of the etchings will be shown in the Courtauld Institute Galleries immediately after the closing of the present exhibition.

Tomas Harris was killed in a motor accident in Mallorca on the 27th January 1964. To say that his death was a shock to his friends is a feeble statement of what they felt; and the loss to the art world was equally great. At 56 he seemed to be just starting on a new career as a scholar and art-historian. Might he have done for others – Durer and Rembrandt – what he did for Goya? Alas! we shall never know.

ANTHONY BLUNT  

My research has led me to many articles written by Anthony Blunt about his good friend and colleague – the Late Tomas Harris (my grandfathers brother). Anthony Blunt wrote many tributes to Tomas for newspapers and Exhibition catalogues. Anthony Blunt was also good friends with Tomas’s sister Enriqueta Harris.

<— View details of article written by Anthony Blunt the week after Tomas’s death in the car accident in Mallorca

View Blunts introduction about Tomas Harris in the catalogue produced for the Tomas Harris 1975 Art Exhibition at the Courtauld Institute   —>

View Another Anthony Blunt article about Tomas Harris <— (Please note that article tells that Tomas designed and built his house in Camp de Mar in Mallorca, this is not correct – He purchased the house and renovated it – see photos of house before and after renovation in the Camp de Mar Gallery)

Anthony Blunt was  Knighted in 1956  and awarded an honorary fellowship at Trinity College. In 1978, while a distinguished Art historian at the Courtauld institute,  he was stripped of his knighthood and removed as an Honary member of Trinity college because his role as a Soviet Spy during the war had become exposed.

Blunt <– Wiki link was a Warburg Institute professor; director of the Courtauld Institute and professor at the University of London, before and after the war. He specialised in French and Italian Art. Enriqueta Harris, Tomas’s sister, specialised in Spanish Art, and had also worked at the Courtauld Institute. Henri Frankfort had become  director of the Warburg Institute in London in 1948,  and married Enriqueta Harris who worked at the Courtauld Institute just two years before he died in 1954.

Blunt had spent five years serving in MI5 during the war and was lavishly entertained (along with Guy Burgess, David Liddell and  Kim Philby) at the Mayfair and Logan Place residences of Tomas and his wife Hilda. Blunt was interviewed by Nigel West, author of GARBO, in May 1981, during which he informed Nigel West that in 1944 he had been introduced to GARBO (MI5’s double spy) by Tomas Harris (Garbos MI5 controller) over dinner at a restaurant in Jermyn Street in London.

Blunt was a member of the group known as the Cambridge Five <– Wiki Link . Wikipedia states that the five names refer to the fact that all members became committed Communists while attending Cambridge University in the 1930s..

Around 1880, Tomas Harris’s father, Lionel Harris, joined his father William Harris in South America (Chile or Peru),  to work with him in the textile business.

Today the Courtauld Institute has a collection of Tomas Harris’s textiles that once belonged to his father. 

In 1891, at his fathers suggestion Lionel moved to Spain. He traded as a diamond merchant for a short while. In 1892 Lionel had two business addresses for his new company,  L.Harris & Co. , one in Madrid and one in London (35 Hatton Gardens) but he was no longer a diamond dealer. He had begun dealing with antiques, art and jewellery instead.

By 1896 Lionel Harris still had his business in Madrid, but moved his London business from 35 to 23 Hatton Gardens and opened another gallery at 127 Regent Street. Lionel had built up stock by extracting silver articles and other valuables from ecclesiastical and monastic sources in Spain. He exhibited his stock in a Spanish Art Exhibition at his New Regent Street Gallery, showing 16th/17th century embroideries, jewellery, rugs, and vases.

Enriqueta Rodriquez Leon and Conchita HarrisLionels marriage to Enriqueta was registered in Spain in February 1898, and 9 or 10 months  later their first child, Conchita was born, in London.  Around 1900 Lionel moved his Madrid business to London because his family was growing quickly. His home was at 21 Lymington Road, Hampstead.

Spanish Art Gallery 50 Conduit StreetBy 1901 Lionel’s Gallery was at 44  Conduit Street, off Bond Street in London. 

In 1902 Lionel had another business address at 32 St James’ Street.

In 1907 Lionel opened the Spanish Art Gallery at 50 Conduit Street with an exhibition of works by the Catalan artist Joseph Cusachs.

By 1911,  Lionel and Enriqueta had 7 children including Tomas Harris born in 1908. There were four boys and three girls.Lionel Enriqueta and their seven Children

In 1906 Lionel was selling to the newly founded Hispanic Society of America in New York, and between 1910 and 1920 he was selling sculptures, rare textiles, carpets and other works to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and dealing in early Spanish paintings and El Greco.

Between 1923 and 1926, Tomas Harris at the age of 15,  won a scholarship trained as an artist at the Slade School of Art.Tomas Harris - Slade Schiool, of Art 1923 - 1926 Tomas Harris - Slade Schiool, of Art 1923 - 1926 Tomas Harris - Slade Schiool, of Art 1923 - 1926 Tomas Harris - Slade Schiool, of Art 1923 - 1926

 

Then Tomas spent a year in Rome at the British Academy.

He returned to the Slade School of Art after World War II to study Goya, and wrote a two volume book – Goya Prints and Lithographs

By the late 1920’s Tomas Harris, Lionel’s youngest son, had galleries of his own, first in Sackville Street, then at 29 Bruton Street.

29 Bruton Street.Tomas Harris Ltd,  29 Bruton Street  29 Bruton Street.

 

Soon after (also in the late 1920’s)  three of Lionel’s four sons (Lionel junior, Maurice and Tomas of course) had joined Lionel Senior as directors of the Spanish Art Gallery (50 Conduit Street), Kent Road Gallery (44 Conduit Street), and Tomas Harris Ltd (29 Bruton Street).

   Tomas Harris Ltd -29 Bruton Street

Although Tomas had an amazing talent and continued to paint and exhibit his work throughout his life, the family’s dealing in works of art stimulated his interest in collecting too. He began by seeking out prints and drawings by the two Tiepolos, DĂŒrer and Rembrandt, and then turned his attention to Goya., building up an unrivalled collection of the various editions of the Spanish artist’s major series of prints and lithographs, and studying rare states of the etchings.

In the 1930s Tomas organised two exhibitions of exceptional quality with major works by Velåzquez, Ribera, Zurbarån and Goya and  had shown great ability to expand the Spanish Art Gallery business even further.

 

Exhibition of Spanish Masters at 29 Bruton Street - June 1931

 

DSCN1654In 1931 Tomas Harris organised the Exhibition of Old Masters by Spanish Artists (Velåzquez, Ribera, Zurbarån and Goya) at the Galleries of Tomas Harris Ltd, 29, Bruton Street, London W 1.june 9th 1931 Exhibition of Old Masters opened by Spanish Ambasador 

Tomas Harris requested the honor of the presence of the Spanish Ambasador, who opened the exhibition on the 9th of June 1931 

 

 

 

 

And in 1938 Tomas organised the exhibition From Greco to Goya, Tomas Harris Ltd, The Spanish Art Gallery. 6, Chesterfield Gardens.

 

 

Chesterfield Gardens

Chesterfield GardensChesterfield Gardens

During the war, Tomas Harris lived at Chesterfield Gardens in the Mayfair area. Lionel Harris died in 1943, and Tomas who was uniquely suited, inherited Chesterfield Gardens and the Spanish Art Gallery.  During the war Tomas and Hilda (his wife) would give grand parties at Chesterfield Gardens, to their friends in high places in the art world and the secret service (MI5 and MI6/SIS) .

Also during the war in 1943 (Anthony Blunt’s words) Tomas  held a one-man show at the galleries of Reid and LefĂšvre in King Street. After the war he gradually freed himself from his commitments as a dealer and spent more and more time in Spain, first at Malaga and then in Majorca where he designed and built a house at Camp de Mar. Here he was able to paint as much as he wanted, and he also experimented with making ceramics and stained glass and designing tapestries, three of which were woven at the royal tapestry factory at Madrid. His great versatility enabled him to master all the technical problems involved in these activities with astonishing ease.

War years -Tomas moved from Chesterfield Gardens to here - Garden Lodge In 1948 Tomas moved the Spanish Art Gallery to Garden Lodge, Logan Place, Kensington, W8, and Tomas owned that property and the house at Camp de Mar in Mallorca until he died in 1964. The Garden Lodge at Logan Place became,  many years after Tomas’s death, the home of the singer Freddy Mercury (Queen).

 

After the war Tomas returned to the Slade School of Art to study the engravings of Goya. His teacher was John Buckland Wright, a famous illustrator (from New Zealand). Tomas and his brother Maurice had actively tried to sell work from their father’s stock to major museums. It has been said that Tomás was ‘evidently trying to wind up his business’ then.   And it may be that the stimulus to create, fostered by his house in Majorca, and his Goya collecting and the preparation of his Goya print catalogue left little time for dealing and selling.

After Tomas’s death in 1964, Anthony Blunt organised an exhibition of Tomas’s art work at the Courtauld Institute (in 1975) and Antony’s introduction in the Exhibitions cataloge was a great summary of Tomas’s life (I will post the words sometime). After the exhibition, much of Tomas’s art was gifted to many  Museums around Spain and also some to Australia where Tomas also had friends in the art world. 

Cacti - Cartoon for a tapestry - Tomas HarrisA tapestry called Cacti – Cartoon for a tapestry,  one of only three woven at the Royal Factory in Madrid was gifted to the National Gallery of Victoria ,  in Melbourne, Australia (Founded in 1861). It was gifted to the gallery, by his three very generous sisters, Conchita, Violeta, and Enriqueta Harris, most likely because Tomas had been very good friends of the Director there.

During Tomas’s life he had become very well connected with many Museum directors and curators in the art world of Europe, America and Australia.

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TOMAS HARRIS (1908 – 1964)

1908 – Tomas Born to my great Grand Parents Lionel and Enriqueta (Rodriquez) Harris

1923 – at 15 years old, Tomas won the Trevelyan-Goodall scholarship to the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art at the London University. Then went on to Rome to study painting and sculpture at the British Academy there. Then back in London he owned his own tiny gallery.

1930 – First Tomas owned his own tiny gallery. Lionel Harris, Tomas’s father was the director and owner of the splendid Spanish Art Gallery in Mayfair (and another in Madrid),  founded in the turn of the century to show the finest Spanish, Italian and Flemish classical art. Tomas joined his father just before his retirement and did very well.  Tomas worked with ceramics, stained glass, tapestry, and engraving. Tomas inherited his fathers home, 6 chesterfield Gardens, which became a meeting place for MI5’s and SIS’s (MI6) few Bohemian employees. Tomas Harris  had an impressive art Collection by Velazquez, Goya and Rubens. After his fathers retirement as director,  Tomas was soon recognised as one of the most clever and respected art dealers, known worldwide for his exquisite taste and his infallible eye.

1931 – Tomas Harris and Hilda Webb were married, between July and September, a document shows they were married in 1931, in Marylebone, London, and their marriage certificate reference number is Vol 1 a/ 1648..

1940 – Tomas was posted to the SOE’s (Sabotage Organization created in July following the fall of France to the Germans) first Special Training School, which had been established at Brickendonbury Hall, in a large country house in Hertford. Tomas and his wife Hilde, stayed there for 6 months and he was then ‘snapped up by MI5’ where he was to conceive and guide one of the most creative intelligence operations of all time – it became known as ‘The Garbo Case’.

1941-Late in 1941 – Head of B1(g) Brooman-White was transferred to SIS (MI6) to run Section V’s unit known as V(d). Tomas Harris was appointed to succeed him. Expansion had taken place and workload was escalating daily. Three secretaries were not enough. Sarah Bishop (fluent in Spanish) who worked in MI5’s French section, was recruited by Tomas and after a brief spell of learning about the role of the security service, Sarah joined Tomas in B1(g).

It was at this time that the pieces of the jigsaw were put together. It now seemed likely to MI5 that the man who had visited the British embassy in Madrid and later in Lisbon to offer his services to the Allied cause, was the same man the Germans had code named ARABEL (later to be known as GARBO) . It was obvious to MI5 that ARABEL’s information provided to the Germans was fictitious, as his letters written in invisible ink to the Germans contained many errors – such as litres of wine and beer, moving south because of the hot summers in London!, errors in accounts (pre-decimal) always submitted in shillings instead of ÂŁ S . – but not so obvious to the Germans. ARABEL also came uncomfortably close to the truth in many ways too. So the question for MI5 was – ‘Is he genuine or a plant by the Germans, should we leave him well alone?’ After many debates and deliberations between MI5 and SIS, it was eventually agreed that the benefits of taking him on outweighed the risks.

1942/Jan – Britain agree to represent the Juan Pujol.

THE WAR YEARS –  Tomas and Garbo worked together during the war. Books have been written by both about their war efforts.. I have written more/other notes on Garbo and Tomas in the Garbo Post.  Please click this link to jump directly to 1942 in the Garbo Post

1944/September – Tommy and Garbo invented an excuse to avoid having Garbo give co-ordinates of the ‘landings’ of the V2’s, The first V2 bomb, which landed in Chiswick on the 8th September 1944 killing 3 people. As Garbo was expected by the Germans to give co-ordinates of the bomb sites, Garbo ‘got himself arrested by the police’ while supposedly going to the bomb site to determine the co-ordinates. Because of this, the Germans directed Garbo to suspend all operations until instructed otherwise. This was exactly what Garbo and Tomas had hoped for. They both took vacations, the first that either had taken since they started working together over two years before. Tommy and Hilde went to stay at Sarah Bishops parents at Chisbury in Wiltshire, where Tomas picked up his paintbrush and painted farm animals, and Garbo went on a motor tour of the British Isles.

During the 2nd World War Years – Tommy and his wife were lavish entertainers and during the war and moved from Chesterfield Gardens to a larger property, Garden House in Logan Place. He hardly did any painting during the war years.. Garbo described Tommy in his book as “sensible, capable, always impeccably dressed , smoked like a chimney, adored his wife, always cheerful, had an attractive smile, enjoyed good food and wine, had an impressive art collection by Velazquez, Goya and Rubens. He said in Tommy’s early days he was influenced by El Greco school, but later by Goya.

1944/June – When the V2’s fell, Tommy left Chesterfield Gardens and took temporary refuge at the Bull, at Gerrards Cross, NW London.

>1945 : Tomas received an O.B.E for his war efforts as offcer in MI5, for his imagination and work with Garbo.  After years of frenzied activity in MI5,  Harris sold his gallery and designed and built a house and art studio in Camp de Mar, in Andratx, in Mallorca, and settled there, where he devoted himself to his own art, mastering almost all techniques: oil, engraving, lithography, sculpture, stained glass and tapestries. His main inspiration was the island landscape, particularly that of Andratx, which he loved.

1964 – Tomas died (and there was an inquest) in Mallorca, crashed his new car .  His wife Hilde was also in the car and was thrown clear and survived. ( ***1/***2 Tomas and Hilde were on their way from Camp de Mar to purchase plane tickents to fly to Madrid the following week, they had had lunch in Palma with Robert Graves (a famous English Author)  and then drove on towards Felanitx (a little town in Mallorca) to see a man who was going to bake more of  Tomas’s ceramics in his kiln. On their way there, in Leuchmayor,  their new  Citroen DS (5,000 miles on the clock) crashed, it was a fatal car accident. Hilda was thrown clear of the car and survived, but Tomas Harris died (1964).  An inquest was held – see Anthony Blunts newspaper article about this ) Hilda died about four years later. My Grandfather (William Harris, Tomas’s Brother) was specifically named in Tomas’s will, which also mentions Enriqueta (Tomas’s sister) along with his wife’s three sisters. And when Enriqueta’s Obituary was published in the Sunday Times one day in 2006, my father recognised the name and immediately checked it against the copy of Tomas’s Will that he had a copy of. My father then realised that he had made an amazing connection with his own fathers rather large family of MI5 employees, art dealers, artists and antique dealers with whom he had no contact at all since he was a young boy.

2009 Aug –  Andratx segon Harris – Art Exhibition held in August 2009,  in Andratx, Mallorca, the organizer of the exhibition was of Lumen Publishing in Barcelona, He knows an incredible amount about Tomas Harris, and perhaps a book is on the cards. He owns the house of Tomas Harris. in Andratx, Camp de Mar,  and a famous singer Ana Torrojo (lead singer of the trio Mecano, which has probably been the most popular band from Spain) now owns the painters art studio.

*  If anyone has contact details for Andreu please let me know – I would love to get in touch with him.. — LATEST NEWS : Andreu has made contact with me through this website – the wonders of the internet!!

* I have been contacted by David Moore through this website who has several paintings by Tomas Harris, and went to the ‘Adnratx segon Harris’ exhibition in Mallorca this year,  gave me the names of two organisers and informed me one now ownes the house Tomas owned. Also that during the exhibition a nephew of Tomas (from his wife’s side) gave a very moving tribute to Tomas Harris. I would very much appreciate being notified if anyone knows how I can possibly contact any members of the Hild’s family (sisters – Ella Powell, Madge Tribe, Ivy Web)

—————— LINKS —————–

(D-Day 6/6/1944) – (view Link)

This date marks the start of Europe invasion in Normandy, France – during World War II

MI5 (view Link)

was responsible for counter-espionage intelligence within the UK

MI6/SIS (view Link)

Secret Intelligence service for counter-espionage intelligence in foreign countries.

Garbo (view Post)

Spanish Agent, a double Agent for Britain MI5, was awarded the Iron Cross by the Germans

Anthony Blunt (view Post)

MI5 Agent,  was An Art historian before and after the war, he was knighted then when suspected of being a Soviet spy Agent his knighthood was annulled.

 

 

  • ***1  Details about the crash were supplied by Andreu.
  • ***2 Additional details of the crash were supplied Novemeber 2010 by Bill Bristow (son of Desmond Bristow) who says :-

Hilly did not die in the car crash with Tomas. They had a very serious argument that morning. Tomas had dropped off some of his ceramics at the local kiln so they could be fired. Hilly blamed herself for the crash as the argument was quite heated. My father went out to comfort Hilly after the crash.