Marian, Anna and Katherine

Paine met Marian Jane Nelson (also known as Maria or Marie) when both were students at the Royal College of Art.   She was Irish, and some five years older than Paine.  They married on the 1st July 1920 at Stephen’s Green Church in Dublin.   His ‘irascible’ father strongly disapproved but, nevertheless, lent them the money to build a house on top of Pinner Hill (No. 73).   Their son, Nelson, was born in Glasgow on 17th April 1923.  (See Chronology)    He said that, as a child, he spent time in America and almost certainly Maria and her son accompanied Paine on his first visit to California in 1924-5 when he was appointed Head of the Applied Arts Department of the Community Arts in Santa Barbara, where Frank Morley Fletcher was the Director.

The marriage did not last.   In 1929 Paine returned to Santa Barbara, leaving Marian and his son behind.   In the summer of 1930, realising that her husband had deserted her, Marian returned to Ireland with Nelson then aged 7 and went into partnership with her unmarried sister Winnie at Dun Laoghaire.   Fortunately she had a small income from  her father.

At Pinner Hill Nelson attended a kindergarten.   There Paine met Anna Luther, one of the teachers.   Her full name was Daisy Kathe Else Nadi (Nadia) Luther, born in 1896 in Estonia.     She was very short, four foot something.   She lived at 65 Oakley Street, Chelsea.   This was in the period 1925-1929 when he was in private practice at Pinner Hill before returning to California.

Luther Coat of ArmsThe Luther Family Coat of Arms

Paine probably designed this coat of arms for Anna during the 1930s.

It seems that Anna accompanied Paine to Santa Barbara and attended his art classes.    If so, it would have been during the period 1929-31.   I have no direct evidence of her journeys at the relevant dates or of her presence in California.      My only record is that on 1st November 1922 Anna, aged 26, left Southampton on the White Star liner Homeric bound for New York.   It is almost certain that she did not meet Teuila (See post Oct. 21st 2018).   When in 1936 Paine sent her a portrait of Anna, Teuila refers in her reply to Anna’s ‘rare and lovely face’ and says she wants to get to know her.

Anna was artistic and played the violin.   In October 1945 Paine drew a likeness of the violinist Max Rostal, Professor of Music at the Guildhall School of Music and well-known soloist at the Albert Hall and in BBC concerts, which he inscribed: ‘To my friend Mrs. Anna  Paine with best wishes’.   Anna belonged to an aristocratic landed family in Tallinn that claimed descent from Martin Luther.       Her mother, Margareta, (or possibly her grandmother) was an opera singer at the Palace of the Tsar.   When the Russians invaded the Baltic States in 1940 her brother Martin told his relatives to come back home and collect their share of the family wealth.   They escaped from Tallinn all together in a car and were escorted across Europe to the Hook of Holland by the Nazis – so the story goes.*

Max Rostal drawn by Paine 1945

It is difficult to untangle the events in Paine’s personal life at this time.   Anna had a friend, a ballerina called Katherine but known as ‘Jim’ or ‘Jimmie’, who Paine knew in England before going to California.     It seems that she was the love of his life.   The exact sequence of events is unclear, but the story is that ‘Jim’ followed him to Santa Barbara.   He got a telegram announcing her arrival while he was lecturing and said he ‘fainted’.   Teuila entertained them at Serena on at least one occasion, remembering in a letter (13 November 1936) ‘the long day [they] came and spent in the garden’.

In 1931 Paine returned to England.   It may be that he wanted to remain in California but was induced to return to England by Katherine.   Teuila certainly thought so.   In a letter to Anna dated 24 January 1937 Teuila wrote, ‘… though Jim loved him madly she wanted to get him back to England where she wanted to live.   . . . on all sides I still hear regrets that the greatest artist that ever came to California was allowed to leave . . .’   He resigned on the same day as Morley Fletcher, the end of the second semester, on 17 May.   This was to be the end of their very successful association  (Box 668, Archives of the SBSA)     He arrived at Southampton on the White Star Liner Majestic on 5 September, listed as ‘Professor aged 34’.   Katherine may have been with him but does not appear on the same passenger list.   It is probable that Anna returned to England at the same time.    Paine was very highly thought of in California and there is a clear implication in another letter that he could have been appointed Director of the School of Arts in San Francisco.

Following his return to England Paine worked in partnership with Anna who was skilled in the making of stained glass.   They called themselves ‘the firm’.   He lived with Jim at Studio House, South View Road, Pinner Hill, Middlesex.   In August 1933, writing to Anna while on holiday with Jim in Norfolk, after referring to Jim affectionately as ‘my little lilybums’, he concludes, ‘Yours as ever  X a wet one’   His third wife wrote of him, ‘… he was a great boy for the women!’

Although life seems to have gone smoothly for a time, by 1936 Paine was in trouble both personally and professionally.   In a letter to Teuila he speaks of ‘tragedy and hell’.   She refers to his ‘many troubles’.   He was suffering from depression and had lost interest in his work.  Teuila wrote, ‘I am so glad that you are beginning to ‘want to draw’ – with a home and peace and love you should be able to spit on  your  hands  and  go  to work with enthusiasm.’   (13 December 1936)   It is clear that he was very deeply attached to Katherine but for some reason they parted.   It may be because he was unable to obtain a divorce from Maria.   In December 1936 Teuila wrote, ‘As I understand it you could not get a divorce . . . have you and Jim parted for ever?   Is your home with Anna?   Thank God for her care of you.   I listened to the King’s abdication speech – and the tears rolled down my cheeks.   How well you can sympathise with him.   You too are denied what was denied him.   Surely all this publicity should have some effect on the obsolete divorce laws of England’.   After the parting with Katherine in 1936, Paine moved to Welwyn Garden City (43 Longcroft Lane) and lived with Anna.   They stayed together until her death in 1960.   In August 1937 Teuila wrote, ‘Give Anna a kiss from me and tell her to take the best care of my dear Charles.’

At this time, in the mid-thirties, Paine and Anna were both in poor health.   In August or September 1937 Anna was in hospital and Paine was ‘getting well enough to walk again’ probably after surgery on an injured foot.**   A submission to the Royal Academy was rejected.   Ever supportive, Teuila wrote,  ‘Damn the Royal Academy – Don’t they know a good thing when they see it?’   (25 May 1937)   It seems likely that he hoped to escape from his unhappy situation by returning to the Community Arts Association and cabled Teuila for advice.   She replied in January 1937 saying, ‘… I’m so sorry to tell you there isn’t a chance.   The poor old Community Arts is all shot to pieces.’  With the coming of the Depression in 1929 and the ending of the Carnegie grant, the SBSA had fallen into serious financial difficulties.   It managed to continue for a few years and was finally dissolved in the mid to late 1930’s.  

In September 1942 Anna married Paine at Marylebone saying ‘it would help with the rations’.     She refused to change her name.   It is not known if Paine had eventually obtained a divorce.   Presumably he did as Maria died in January 1962 and he is unlikely to have committed bigamy.   (In October of that year Paine married his third wife, Jane Bolshaw.)   They continued to live in Welwyn Garden City.

Anna had, for reasons unknown, been ‘thrown out’ by her family which is perhaps why she went to America in 1922 and may have something to do with her having had an illegitimate child by her Cossack lover in Estonia.   (I can only speculate)  The child died, and she was to have no other children.  Eventually she was forgiven and returned to London and received her share of the family fortune.   This was considerable, certainly enough for her and Paine to live on after they moved to Jersey in 1948.

Anna died of pancreatic cancer at the West London Hospital, Hammersmith, on 5 September 1960 aged 64.   Paine was distraught but that is another story.

* The background to these events is described in The Devil’s Alliance: Hitler’s Pact with Stalin 1939 – 1941 by Roger Moorhouse 2014 p.79 ff

**  While in Santa Barbara, Paine had to cross the border into Mexico at intervals to extend his visa.   On one such trip he was kicked by his donkey, causing him to limp thereafter.

Revised January 2023 in the light of new biographical information in a letter from a member of Paine’s family received in 1996 and subsequently lost among my papers.

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