The Girl in the Green Jumper

My Life with the Artist Cyril Mann
Renske Mann, 2022
The Girl in the Green Jumper: My Life with the Artist Cyril Mann
Publisher: Pimpernel Press
Dimensions: 230 x 170mm
£ 30.00

Cyril Mann (1911-80) had the potential to become one of the most important figurative painters of his time. Possessed of formidable gifts as a painter, he made a number of genuinely innovative breakthroughs. Yet, struggling with mental health problems, Mann had an unerring instinct for turning each moment of promise into bitter disappointment.


Yet when Renske van Slooten met this scruffy, unhappy and neglected figure in 1959 she fell in love with him at first sight. The 19-year-old Dutch Indonesian girl - recently arrived in London - was convinced that she had discovered a genius. She saw him as "the British van Gogh". His visionary bombsite pictures caused a Damascene moment. It was her destiny, she sensed, to help him achieve his artistic potential.  The Girl in the Green Jumper tells the story of their life together, his work and all she did to support him. 


Weeks after they met, she caused outrage, moving into Cyril's council flat, Bevin Court. Scandalously, they lived 'in sin' until he divorced his first wife. They married without parental consent on September 1, 1960. Renske was 21 and he nearly 50. She promised to relieve Cyril of financial constraints. For two decades until his death on January 7, 1980, she was the breadwinner, initially scraping by on secretarial temping jobs. 


Now it was Cyril's turn to fall in love with his young wife, muse and model. His art blossomed. Their relationship was no one-way street. He 'shaped her', as William Blake had done his illiterate wife, Catherine. He educated her, taught her to cook and nourished her love for art.  Yet their relationship was marred by tragedy. Cyril was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. He was a difficult, often terrifying companion, a loner out of step in an art world that favoured abstraction above Cyril's figurative art.               


"I am convinced that Cyril will one day be recognized as one of the 'greats' of British art. Shortly after we met, I promised him I would never stop fighting for him and his art. That promise still holds six decades later."  Renske Mann, Aftermath The Girl in a Green Jumper is not only an enthralling story and a fascinating portrait of an artist, set against the backdrop of 1960s London, it also charts in detail the struggles an artist goes through, both creatively and financially.