May and Herbert Gibbs Collection

May knew how to tease

Strictly Private and Cally not admitted
May Gibbs nd

This sketch in two halves depicts a
half-dressed May and her husband, J.O. Kelly, and was probably sent to 'Cally', family friend Jim Calanchini. It was Calanchini who had introduced J.O. to the Gibbs family in 1918, and May doubtless knew of his unrequited love for her. Calanchini remained a loyal friend until his death in the early 1950s.

Cally not admitted is a slightly provocative self-exposure, with May's faux coyness apparent in the annotation that her buttocks are 'a bit exagerated' [sic.] and her clarification that the midriff area shown is 'not flesh' but 'new pink stays'. In Strictly private May shows off her patient and domestically minded husband ('note long hair'), with breakfast prepared and their Scottish terrier Shamus at his feet.

Together, the sketches invite 'Cally' to take a voyeuristic look at May's inner sanctum.