SALUKI BREED NOTES WEEKENDING 30THOCTOBER 2020
David Crane, Hon Sec of the Saluki Welfare has sent me the following: “Just to let you know that Saluki Welfare will be holding their delayed AGM via Zoom at 12 noon on Saturday 21st November 2020. Any items for the agenda, which will be published in advance, should be sent to me. David’s contact details are tel. 01725 518790 or email:email@example.com
I am most thankful to the Irish Wolfhound Breed Notes writer Maggie Holder for the following article which appeared in her Breed Notes of the 16thOctober 2020. It is a most moving and interesting obituary of Cynthia Boissevain, one of the early people in our breed. Her first Saluki litter was in 1958 when she produced Branwen Alyf from Sakkara Arabesque and Air Capital Azaranta. Sakkara Arabesque was a daughter of Burydow Uki who I have written previously about in these notes. The dam was an American bred bitch and the litter was whelped in the States. In all she bred 27 Saluki litters between 1958 and 1982. Her last Saluki, she owned ,was Knightellington Oleanda which she obtained from Helen Baker. Cynthia last judged Salukis at Crufts in 1993.
Maggie writes “Cynthia Boissevain has passed away. Thank you to Marion Finney for providing me with so much information about her friend.”
“Cynthia left her beautiful home in Wales about a month ago to live with her cousins in Mexico, sadly she didn’t live long enough to enjoy it there. She hadn’t had any dogs for a couple of years but had a wonderful cat called Liam who is still enjoying life in Wales with friends. Cynthia is survived by her daughter Sheila, Her other sons Tom and Tony pre-deceased her. Cynthia bred, owned and exhibited Wolfhounds, her first litter was in 1954 born in the US by US Ch Timeer o Amberside X Warbonnet of Amberside. She was breeding well into the 70’s and when she came to Europe (Spain and France) she continued with the Wolfhounds and also Salukis, Afghans, Greyhounds and Italian Greyhounds, bringing the first blacks to Europe.”
When she moved to the UK nearly 50 years ago, she exhibited Wolfhounds, Salukis and Italians for some years. An obituary follows from Nick Madigan (One of her twin sons).
My mother, Cynthia Anne Boisssevain a former actress, ballet dancer and breeder of champion hounds, who lived in half a dozen countries and travelled the world as an ornithologist and botanist, died last weekend in Guadalajara, Mexico. She was 96. Her death followed by less than three months that of my eldest brother, Tony in Madrid. I was still in Spain, dealing with the aftermath of his passing, when I received word that my mother’s eyesight had begun to fail as the result of a detached retina and other issues. She had lived alone in a stone farmhouse on 43 acres near Cardigan, Wales overlooking the Irish Sea, her home for more than 4 decades. I flew up and after years of protestations, she acknowledged that she could no longer stay in that big old place with it’s uneven slate floors and steep staircases, and that it was time to move back to Mexico, where she had spent a good part of her childhood and where our cousins were always happy to see her. Two weeks later, after finding a home for Liam, her ginger cat, she and I were on a plane. It was in the home of Teresa de Oyarzabal Carroll and Humberto Saldana that my mother, her intellectual acuity intact, spent her last 25 days, happy in the embrace of her extended family and responding well to treatment for diabetes and a heart condition.
On Saturday morning, Teresa, told me, my mother ate a hearty breakfast and the sat quietly with her legs in the sun, near her two feline friends, Cooper and Estrellita. When Teresa went to check on her, a few minutes later, she was gone. Later, as her body was beginning to be removed for cremation Teresa started up Rachmaninov 2ndpiano concerto on the CD player, in honour of my mother’s fondness for the Russian composter. Born in San Francisco on July 26,1924, Cynthia Boissevain was taken as an infant to live in Paris by her parents John Magee Boissevain and Estrella Braniff Carroll. The couple divorced soon thereafter and the young Cynthia was supervised by a succession of governesses, none of whose company she enjoyed. After her mother’s wedding in London to Lorenzo “Chato” Elizaga, a nephew of the former president of Mexico, they moved to Mexico city and subsequently to a large ranch called Pasteje where they raised bulls, cattle and horses. Later as a teenager in the 1940s the heyday of the Mexican film industry she was cast in several movies “Albur de Amor”, “Bugambilia” and “Las Cinco Advertencians de Satanas” under the stage name of Ana Bronte because she explained the name Boissevain, a legacy of our French forebears was too hard to pronounce. In New York City, Cynthia studied ballet under the Russian choreographer George Balanchine, who co-founded the New York City Ballet Company. She also modelled for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other magazines as did her mother, often wearing the designs of courtiers like Coco
Chanel, Jean Patou and Cristobal Balenciaga, the later a close friend who later became my godfather. Cynthia and her mother travelled in a social circle that included Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Frida Kahlo, Arthur Rubinstein, Claudette Colbert, Pablo Picasso and Douglas Fairbanks. While performing in a play on Long Island, Cynthia met Thomas Madigan, a young writer of radio plays who was working as a stage manager. They married in New York City in 1947 and had five children: Anthony, Thomas III, Sheila, Kevin and me. (Tom died in 2003) a year before our father and as you’ve learned, Tony left us in July this year. My mother’s survivors include six grandchildren, two great grandchildren. My parent’s marriage did not last and Cynthia moved the children in 1961 to San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country, a city she had visited as a child when her mother rented houses for the summer in the south of France.
All of us kids attended schools in Spain and later in England where my mother acquired a country place in Dorset and later in London’s Kensington district. In 1977 after buying the property in Wales she sold the houses in London and Spain and moved to the coast of the Irish Sea for good. All the while my mother was influential as a breeder of Afghans, Salukis, Greyhounds and Irish Wolfhounds under the banner of Branwen Kennels an enterprise she began on Long Island, NY and continued in Spain and later in Wales. Any dog you find online that bares the name Branwen in its pedigree is a descendant of my mother’s genetic efforts in the realm of thoroughbred sight hounds. We spent many hours as children helping to care for the dogs and grooming them for shows. It was fun when there were puppies. My mother was also a judge at shows, not only in Spain but in France, Sweden, Britain, The Netherlands, the United States and elsewhere and her passing has reverberated in dog breeding circles in those countries. She is also being mourned by her surviving friends (Some years ago she said to me ”who knew I’d live so long?” I’ve spent the last few days in long conversations with some of them and invariably they recall her deep knowledge of wildlife, flora and other matters of nature, her profound literary background and her strong views on political issues and the state of the world, which in her view is rapidly heading towards cataclysm. “She was a great lady and a great friend” David Bailey who lived near her in Wales said to me today by phone. Aled Davies, another Cardigan figure, wrote in an email “Your mother was a real character…she enjoyed life, cared for the environment and stuck to her beliefs with conviction.”
There is much more to be said about her, but it will have to wait for the book. In the meantime, I will always be grateful that I had such a close relationship with her for so many years, despite some of the difficult family dynamics. In our last conversation just over three weeks ago, as I was about to leave the house in Guadalajara for the airport, she asked me to sit down and holding my hand and looking in my eyes thanked me for escorting her to Mexico, where she and I and everyone else knew she had come to die. “I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said. And then we both said “te quiero” at the same time.
Rest in Peace, Cynthia
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