Post originally published 27th November 2009 – Updated 2/2/2010 – changes in green

LIONEL HARRIS (1862-1943) – ENRIQUETA RODRIGUEZ LEON (1873-1933) AND FAMILY LIONEL HARRIS  (1862 0R 1863-1943) AND HIS FAMILY

Lionel’s father was called William Harris. He was born in 1828, apparently in Germany, and died on the 3rd April 1907. William was soon living with other Harrises in London however, and he married Eve Barnett on the 21st November 1860 at the New Synagogue, Great St Helens, according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the German and Polish Jews.[1] Eve had been born in January 1841 and was the daughter of Abraham Barnett, Reader at the Synagogue at the time and later Minister.[2]

The Harrises in question are usually thought to have been of Russian or Polish origin: a family of the Jewish faith which settled in the East End of London and the City in the early years of the 19th century.[3] William’s father seems to have been called Levy, and there was no lack of Harrises and Barnetts living in Great Prescott Street in the 19th century. Lionel was born in that street, where William and Eve were living (at Nº 14) when the 1861 census was taken. William at that time was a general merchant, according to his marriage certificate.

William and Eve had a typically large 19th-century family. Lionel was the eldest son, according to the 1871 census, born in 1862. He was followed by Ernest, Eltaet? (a daughter), Morris, Violet, Stella and Norah according to the 1871 census, when the family had moved up in the world and were living at 43, Woburn Place with four servants. William was now a Diamond Merchant. There was at least one other daughter later, called Gertrude, whom Lionel mentioned in his will and who presumably died after him.[4]

Lionel’s life and career are not too difficult to document. In 1898, at the age of 35, he married Enriqueta Rodríguez y León (born Seville 7th June 1873 and died 3rd November 1933 in London), whose father was Tomás Rodríguez de García, and whose mother was Concepción León y Gallardo from Seville. Lionel and Enriqueta were betrothed in 1895, and married in the Registry Office of the British Consulate in Madrid on the 21st February 1898. The marriage was solemnized in the Synagogue at Bayonne by the Chief Rabbi of that city on the 30th March the same year. The Rodríguez family had some bull-fighting antecedents but Lionel’s in-laws made their living selling antiques in Madrid in the 1890s. At the time of his marriage Lionel was also already established in the antiques trade. [5]

Lionel had earlier, in the 1880s presumably, joined his father in South America to work in the textile business. It was William, apparently, who suggested that his son should move to Spain, and he can first be located in the Spanish capital in 1891.[6]     when he was trading as a diamond merchant (like his father), together with Alfred Lindenbaum in Madrid and London. In 1892 his letterhead gives his business addresses in both Madrid and London, but he was no longer in diamonds, and was dealing instead in antiques,    art and jewellery. L. Harris & Co. was at Fuencarral, 24, Pr[incip]al D[e]r[ech]a in Madrid and 35 Hatton Gardens in London in the year in question. By 1896 his Madrid address had changed to Caballero de Gracia, 22, principal, and he had separate addresses for Antiques and Jewellery in London, at 127 Regent Street (with the telegraphic address BARMASTER),[7] and at 23 Hatton Gardens (telegraphic address BRAWRONIA) respectively. In March 1898 his Madrid address was Carmen, 4, 1º izq[uier]da, and his London addresses remained unchanged.[8] Since a diamond merchant called William Harris is listed in Hatton Gardens in the Post Office Directories of the period, it is not impossible that this was Lionel’s father’s business address.

In Lionel’s early business activity in Madrid and London, it is evident that he needed the support of partners, and often changed them. He dissolved the partnership with Lindenbaum in 1891 and we have yet to discover when it had started. Subsequently he went into partnership with Solomon Joseph as Dealers in Works of Art and Antiquities at 127 Regent Street, trading as Harris & Co., and this arrangement was dissolved in 1898. Later, in 1905, a certain solicitor called George Solomon Joseph (very possibly Lionel’s former partner) is mentioned in The Times in a case where Lionel Harris himself was also involved, as executor of the estate of Louis Jephson of Brighton, whose will had been challenged.  It seems that Solomon Joseph was a cousin of the deceased Jephson and that Lionel was a relation too .[10] 

Despite the need for the backing of others, the ability of Lionel to build up his stock, extracting    silver articles and other valuables from ecclesiastical and monastic sources in Spain in the 1890s can be gauged from the 18 items he exhibited in a Spanish Art Exhibition held at the New Gallery in London in 1896, which also included 16th– and 17th-century embroideries and jewellery, rugs, and vases from his stock. But he moved his main company base to London around 1900, although he continued to travel regularly in Spain to acquire art and antiques for the next few decades.  His family also flourished.  Lionel and Enriqueta’s first child, Violeta,  was born in London in November or December 1898 and Maurice, their second child, was born in London in 1900. The family were living with four servants at 21 Lymington Road, Hampstead when the 1901 Census was taken,[9] and in that year Lionel’s business address was 44 Conduit Street, off Bond Street in London. The following year he was listed at 32 St James’ Street SW, in the Post Office directory of the period, and  by 1909 his company was also to be found at 50 Conduit Street. , in 1907 he opened The Spanish Gallery at 50 Conduit Street with an exhibition of works by the Catalan artist Josep Cusachs. The Spanish Ambassador attended the opening, since the embassy had commissioned an equestrian portrait of the young king Alfonso XIII, in military uniform, by Cusachs, which was on display. Presumably Lionel thought that the time was ripe to capitalise on his Spanish connections, since the good relations between Spain and Britain had been cemented by the marriage of King Alfonso in May 1906 to a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Ena of Battenberg [9b]

By 1911 five more children had been born to Lionel and his wife: three sons –William in 1902; Lionel Junior in 1903; Tomás Joseph in 1909 1908 ; and two daughters, Conchita in 1904; and Enriqueta Eva in 1910. The 1911 census shows that there were now six servants to support the growing family.[10]

Lionel’s art and antiques trading prospered. He was selling early 16th-century alabaster effigies, a large collection of ironwork, a Gothic figure, and Hispano-Moresque vases to the recently founded Hispanic Society of America in New York in the course of 1906, having offered a Spanish Apocalypse to them unsuccessfully in August 1901, and other purchases from Lionel were made by the same Society in the years up to and including 1914. The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased late 15th-century sepulchral sculptures from his firm in 1910 and he sold rare textiles and carpets and other works to them between that date and 1920.[11] In the years before World War I, Lionel’s dealing in early Spanish paintings and El Greco also took off.  The Mass of St Gregory from the School of Fernando Gallego, was bought from Lionel for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 1910 and an anonymous St Michael of the Valencian School was acquired by the National Gallery of Scotland from him the same year.[12] The premises The Spanish Art Gallery at 50 Conduit Street became The Spanish Art Gallery at this period, admired by such art luminaries as Roger Fry, who wrote a strong appraisal of the originality of El Greco’s art for the Burlington Magazine in 1913, basing his opinions largely on four paintings by the master which Lionel then had on show.

By the 1920s, Lionel’s sons were old enough to help their father with his business. Maurice Harris joined his father as a Director before 1921, probably at both the Spanish Art Gallery and 44 Conduit Street, known as the Kent Gallery Ltd. and so did Lionel Junior (the third of the four sons, born in 1903).[13] The second son William may also have worked with his father too, but seems not to have become a director, and at some stage moved to Caernafon in Wales to run an antiques business of his own.[14]

It was in the late 1920s that Lionel’s youngest son, Tomás, decided to follow his father into art dealing, and he had galleries of his own first in Sackville Street and then at 29 Bruton Street before joining Lionel at the Spanish Art Gallery which he later moved to Garden Lodge, Logan Place, Kensington, W8.[15] Tomás had won a scholarship at the Slade School of Art when he was only fifteen and was trained as an artist there from 1923 to 1926, spending a year subsequently at the British Academy in Rome. Although he had a prodigious 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, Dürer 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 his will, Lionel made it plain that Tomás was uniquely suited to run the gallery,[16] and the exceptional quality of the two exhibitions he organised in the 1930s, with major works by Velázquez, Ribera, Zurbarán and Goya and little known works from private collections, showed that he had the ability to develop the business further.[17]Lionel’s own quality and reputation as a dealer was obvious in the 1930s. In an interview with him published in The Evening Standard in July 1938 he was compared to Duveen, although in reality in the field of Spanish art he seems to have outdone all his international rivals, since there is clear evidence that he had handled more important works by Spanish artists than any other dealer in the catalogue of Spanish Paintings outside Spain published by Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño in Madrid in 1958.  Yet although Tomás and Maurice were actively trying to sell work from their father’s stock to major museums in the post-war period, it has been said that Tomás was ‘evidently trying to wind up his business’ then.[18] 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.

[Tomás’s Goya print collection, part of it now available for study in the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings thanks to the generosity of his widow and his sisters, although the gift was also in lieu of estate duties,[19] and his two volume Goya Prints and Lithographs (Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1964) have made a major contribution to the understanding of Goya’s etching and lithographic techniques, and have greatly increased the general appreciation of that part of the Spanish artist’s work. But historians may well be hard pressed to weigh the significance of his work as artist, collector and scholar, against the importance of his work for MI 5 during World War II, since he was the individual responsible for much of the planning and control of the Double Agent known as Garbo, and invented himself many of the spurious reports sent to this agent (and thence to the German High Command) from Garbo’s imaginary network of spies, creating an ingenious web of deceptions, that succeeded in keeping the Germans in the dark about the intended D-Day landings. Tomás wrote his own account of his role as Garbo’s full-time case officer in a series of World War II double bluffs, now in the National Archives at Kew, available in print with the title Garbo, the spy who saved D-day (London, Public Record Office, 2000).[20]

 


[1]Marriage Certificate from the Registration District of the City of London. Certified copy obtained on the 28th October 2002. The fact that William was born in Germany is mentioned in the 1871 census in an entry identified by Morlin.

[2]Birth Certificate from the Registration District of East London and the sub-district of St Botolph. Certified copy obtained 29th October 2002.

 

[3]See Jeffrey Maynard, The History of the Bloom and Harris families (1989). Copy in the Local History Library in Bancroft Road, London E 1.

[4]Copy of the will supplied by the Probate Registry in High Holborn, originally registered at Llandudno. Probate was granted to Lionel’s son-in-law Ephraim Wolff, married to his daughter Conchita (whose given name was presumably inspired by that of her Spanish grandmother).

 

[5]Information about the Spanish side of the family from Dr Enriqueta Harris Frankfort. Lionel and Enriqueta Rodríguez’s marriage certificate could be found in the Overseas Marriages 1896-1900 section in the Family Records Centre in 2002.  The entry in the Madrid registry, vol. 10 fol. 891, was photocopied for Nigel Glendinning in 2002 at the Family Record Centre and given to Enriqueta Harris.

[6]Information given in an article in the Evening Standard July 9, 1938, known from a photocopy formerly in the possession of Enriqueta Harris Frankfort. with additional material from The London Gazette discovered by Morlin.

[7]The term Barmaster is apparently used of local judges in mines who assess the quality of ore extracted.

[8]Information from letters written by Lionel to his father, formerly in the possession of Dr. Enriqueta Harris Frankfort.

[9]Transcript of the entry for the family in the census obtained by Morlin.

[9b] Information from the archives of The Times obtained by Morlin . It seems that 44 Conduit Street had been called The Spanish Art Gallery as early as 1898, when the Empress Frederick visited it one afternoon in December that year, according to The Times.

 

[10]Transcript obtained by Morlin .

[11]Information from research in the Victoria & Albert Museum archives by Dr Marjorie Trusted and her colleagues.

[12]See Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Catalogue of Paintings, I, Dutch Flemish French German Spanish, Cambrudge, 1960, Nº 708, pp. 210-211; and Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño, La pintura española fuera de España, Madrid, Espasa Calpe, 1958, Nº  56.

[13]Information deduced from research on works sold to the V & A carried out by Dr Marjorie Trusted. The prosperity of the family in the 1920s was marked by the move of their private residence from Lymington Road to the far grander Fitzjohns Avenue.

[14]It should be possible to establish further information about William in Wales starting from the recollections of those who knew him there, such as members of the family of Morlin , and Professor David Davies, who may additionally be able to throw further light on his relations with Enriqueta and other members of the Harris family.

 

[15]See Anthony Blunt’s article on Tomás in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1961-1970, Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 493.

[16]A copy of the will obtained from the Probate registry in Holborn in 2002 shows that Lionel knew that the assets of his business had been deprived of their true value by the war and the depression that preceded it, but hoped that they would recover their worth when the war was over. When he made his will he was particularly concerned to look after the female members of his family, although he also wished to continue to support the children of his son William: Gordon, Ronald and David, and a granddaughter called Maureen, who is yet to be identified. His estate was valued for probate at £56, 222 and 16 shillings, a not inconsiderable sum if multiplied by the appropriate factor to give an equivalent in today’s money.

[17]See An Exhibition of Old Masters by Spanish Artists at the Galleries of Tomas Harris Ltd, 29, Bruton Street, London W 1 (June 1931) and From Greco to Goya, Tomas Harris Ltd, The Spanish Art Gallery. 6, Chesterfield Gardens, 1938. The family seem to have lived at Chesterfield Gardens in the Mayfair area during the war, and it was presumably there that Tomás and his wife Hilda gave famously lively parties for their arty and secret service friends.

 

[18]Observation of Dr Marjorie Trusted.

[19]Information from Morlin  based on references in the National Archives to the gift of Goya prints.

[20]See Javier Juárez, Juan Pujol, el espía que derrotó a Hitler, Madrid, 2004; and Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm. The Authorized History of MI 5, London, Allen Lane, 2009.

Many Thanks to Nigel Glendinning (Professor of art history at London University) for sending us the above document about my Harris Family. Nigel was good friend with Tomas Harris, and has known Enriqueta Harris for many years, right up until her death in 2006.

 

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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, Dürer 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 Velázquez, Ribera, Zurbarán 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 (Velázquez, Ribera, Zurbarán 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 Lefèvre 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 £ 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.

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