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Letter: The man behind Bruno Hat

From Mrs Marie-Jacqueline Lancaster

Sir: It is Michael Parkin (letters, 4 October) who has got it wrong concerning the correct attribution for "Bruno Hat", not the caption to David Ekserdjian's book review "The art of lying" (23 September). As my biography Brian Howard - Portrait of a Failure (Blond, 1968) recorded, the "Bruno Hat" exhibition was devised by Howard to dupe the newspaper diary columnists of the day. Howard created and painted all the "Bruno Hat" pictures on cork bath mats while his great friend John Banting filled in some of the backgrounds when time was running short and framed the cork mats in rope.

Banting told me, and confirmed in writing, the limit of his responsibilities as above. He was decidedly piqued to think that these Bruno Hat/Brian Howard pastiches could have been attributed to him, a known surrealist artist at the time. In a letter to me in the 1960s, Lady Mosley (who, as Diana Guinness, was the hostess at the "Bruno Hat" exhibition party in 1929), wrote that she thought Brian was secretly disappointed at not being hailed by the critics as a great new discovery! John Banting's work is represented in the Tate and sells for thousands of pounds, whereas Bruno Hat/ Brian Howard fakes would only fetch a few hundred pounds for their provenance interest.




London, W8

5 October