Last summer’s Modern British exhibition was a significant challenge with the various
lock downs restricting access to the gallery. Like all galleries we did what we could online with presentations and videos and virtual reality shows but we know deep down that our friends and collectors prefer the real thing and it is good news that the gallery is now open again. We have made a number of significant acquisitions since the beginning of 2020, and few of you will have been able to see them until now.
The gallery is open Monday to Friday, if possible do let us know if you would like to visit,
but not essential if you are passing. We are always happy to advise on collections, provide appraisals and general advice. We are not all in the gallery every day so please bear that in mind.
Standing Group No 2 (Large Version), 1952
103.5 x 47.3 x 38.1 cm.
Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1969 (directly from the artist whom they represented)
Marlborough Fine Art, New York
Arte Contacto, Caracas, 1975 (purchased from the above)
Private Collection, Florida (purchased from the above)
Osborne Samuel, London
Roland Penrose, Kenneth Armitage (Amriswil: Bodensee-Verlag, 1960), ill. plate 7 (with incorrect dimensions).
‘Kenneth Armitage’, exhibition catalogue (Arts Council touring exhibition, 1972-3), essay by Alan Bowness (unpaginated), ill.
Charles Spencer, Kenneth Armitage, Alecto Monographs 1 (London: Academy Editions, 1973), ill. p. 6
Tamsyn Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work (Much Hadham/London: The Henry Moore Foundation, in association with Lund Humphries, 1997), KA 28, ill. p. 35.
James Scott and Claudia Milburn, The Sculpture of Kenneth Armitage (London: Lund Humphries, 2016), ill. p. 94, no. 22.
‘Sculpture by Kenneth Armitage, Pottery by James Tower, Pen and Ink Drawings by “Scottie” Wilson’, Gimpel Fils (December 1952), cat. no. 37 [exhibited in plaster].
‘The New decade: 22 European painters and sculptors’, touring exhibition: Museum of Modern Art, New York (10 May – 17 August 1955), Minneapolis Institute of Arts (21 September – 30 October 1955), Los Angeles County Museum (21 November 1955 – 7 January 1956), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2 February – 15 March 1956); catalogue edited by Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, with statements by the artists, ill. p. 58.
‘Kenneth Armitage: sculpture & drawings; S W Hayter: paintings & engravings; William Scott: paintings’, the British Pavilion at the XXIX Venice Biennale 1958, organised by the British Council (14 June – 19 October 1958), essay by Herbert Read, cat. no. 5.
‘Kenneth Armitage, S W Hayter, William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (22 November – 21 December 1958), essay by Herbert Read (text in French), cat. no. 5.
‘Kenneth Armitage, S W Hayter, William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (7-29 March 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in French), cat. no. 5 [Collection: Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York].
‘Sculptuur en tekeningen van Kenneth Armitage en schilderijien van William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, based on the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (3-30 June 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in Dutch), cat. no. 5.
‘Stanley W. Hayter: Gemälde und Graphiken; William Scott: Gemälde; Kenneth Armitage: Skulpturen und Zeichnungen’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (10 January – 8 February 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in German), cat. no. 5.
‘Stanley W. Hayter: Gemälde und Graphiken; William Scott: Gemälde; Kenneth Armitage: Skulpturen und Zeichnungen’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Kunsthaus, Zürich (April-May 1959), cat. no. 5.
‘Kenneth Armitage: a retrospective exhibition of sculpture and drawing, based on the XXIX Venice Biennale of 1958’, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (July-August 1959), essay by Alan Bowness, cat. no. 10, plate VII [Collection: Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York].
The estate archives and artist’s notebooks do not record the exact edition size. At this time in the artist’s career, when working on a bronze of this scale, the edition size was usually limited to 6.
In 1954 Ida Kar photographed Kenneth Armitage, sitting in a spartan, whitewashed room. Sculpture surrounds him, on the bare floorboards, on a makeshift plinth and on the mantlepiece, cheek by jowl with a lamp made from a wine bottle. Some sculptures are still in plaster, and the majority are groups: vertical constructions, arms horizontally out-thrust.
Armitage later identified one specific origin for these forms. He had rented a hut in Corsham as a studio, where he could work without interruption from the students he was teaching. The owner, a Miss Spackman, had left a pile of furniture at one end, which Armitage concealed using folding screens on short narrow legs, to which he tacked corrugated cardboard. He recalled,
Although they were there I never thought about them, but I actually started making real screens. As a result of having looked at aircraft with their wings, the screens appeared as if they were almost flying. The screen has fascinated me all my life, because the folded screen is a shape that is extremely stable, but as it is made of membranes it has very little mass. It is a very light structure. ₁
In Kar’s photograph, one of Armitage’s earliest group sculptures, Linked Figures (large version) (1949/51), can be seen placed on the floor. The two figures have an arm and a leg apiece, while they share two further limbs, creating a composite, conjoined composition. From this date onwards, Armitage’s vision of the sculptural ‘ensemble’ evolved rapidly. His four bronzes at the Venice Biennale in 1952 were all groups: figures going for a walk, windblown, or simply standing. By 1955, in the British Council’s touring exhibition to the United States and Canada, ‘Young British Sculptors’, these groups were both familiar and keenly sought after. Children by the Sea (1953), for instance, sold four casts, outstripping the bounds of its intended edition.
Each sculpted group presented a new configuration of interlocking elements, as Armitage explained:
I found in time I wanted to merge them so completely they formed a new organic unit – a simple mass of whatever shape I liked containing only that number of heads, limbs or other detail I felt necessary. So in a crowd we see only the face or hand that catches our eye, for we don’t see mathematically but only what is most conspicuous or important or familiar. ₂
Standing Group 2 (large version) is among the most geometrical examples. Like its predecessor, Standing Group 1, it resembles a screen, but rather than being open, it folds in on itself. The figures form a knot, legs on the outside, arms protruding at different heights. The sculpture’s taut composition may be traced to Armitage’s fascination with architecture and the placement of objects, awakened by the dramatic sight of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Armitage explored the theme in a statement from 1955:
The human range of vision is concerned with the baroque textural configuration with which the Earth’s form is camouflaged. Gravity stiffens this world we can touch and see with verticals and horizontals— the movement of water, railways and even roads … We walk vertically and rest horizontally, and it is not easy to forget North, South, East, West and up and down. ₃
Standing Group 2 (large version) was first exhibited in plaster at Gimpel Fils in December 1952. ₄ In 1954 it was cast in bronze, almost certainly as a unique piece, and shipped to New York, possibly in connection with Armitage’s first solo exhibition at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery. Armitage’s records are patchy, yet the sculpture’s subsequent movements can be traced through exhibition catalogues. In March 1955 it was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as part of a prestigious initiative, ‘The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors’, which toured the United States. It was sent from the Bertha Schaefer Gallery to the 1958 Venice Biennale, after which it toured almost constantly until 1959, as part of the British Council’s travelling version of the Biennale – taking in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland before reaching the UK. Thus, Standing Group 2, undoubtedly one of Armitage’s most significant sculptures of the 1950s, ranks also among its most visible and fiercely promoted.
₁ Tamsyn Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work (Much Hadham/London: The Henry Moore Foundation, in association with Lund Humphries, 1997), p. 30.
₂ Kenneth Armitage, in Peter Selz, New Images of Man (New York: MOMA, 1959), p. 23.
₃ Kenneth Armitage, in The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors, catalogue edited by Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, with statements by the artists (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1955), p. 59.
₄ ‘Sculpture by Kenneth Armitage, Pottery by James Tower, Pen and Ink Drawings by “Scottie” Wilson’, Gimpel Fils (December 1952), cat. 37. For most of Armitage’s sculptures, the catalogue indicated prices for both plaster and bronze.
Head of JYM III, 1980
Chalk and charcoal on paper
76.2 x 58.4 cm.
Marlborough Fine Art, London
Private Collection (purchased from the above)
William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, published by Rizzoli, no. 428
Frank Auerbach ‘Recent Work’ 13 January – 11 February, 1983, Cat No 31, Marlborough Fine Art, London
Auerbach met Juliet Yardley Mills in 1956, when she was working as a model at Sidcup College of Art. He began to paint her the following year, and continued to do so, at his studio in Camden, every Wednesday and Sunday, until 1997. As with all his repeated sitters, Auerbach developed an acute awareness of posture and mood:
I notice something when people first come and sit and think, they do things with their faces. It’s when they’ve become tired and stoical the essential head becomes clearer. They become more themselves as they become tired. ₁
JYM was an ideal sitter, capable of holding poses for long periods of time. At first Auerbach painted her without identification in his titles, although she is distinguishable from his previous frequent subject, Stella West (EOW). A characteristic pose shows JYM seated, her head against the back of the chair or supported by linked hands. As Robert Hughes notes, she always returns the artist’s gaze, and ‘there is a look – head cocked back, sometimes seen a little from below, a bit quizzical, sometimes challenging – that makes [her portraits] quite recognizable as a series’. ₂
Auerbach’s drawings evolve and assume their final form across weeks of sittings. A day’s work may be scrubbed back, the following morning, to leave an accumulated deposit of charcoal. In some cases the paper wears perilously thin and needs to be patched. The finished drawing represents the last sitting, the most recent thoughts, yet Auerbach feels compelled to retain the accumulated traces as part of a process of securing the image within its own space and atmosphere. ₃
Head of JYM III gazes partially downwards. There is a weight and solidity that derives from the density of charcoal, implying the settled mass of the sitter, at ease, one shoulder higher than the other. The volume of her head is registered through its eye sockets, cheekbones and chin. Through these we gain an intuition of its totality, and how it might feel to follow the head round, past its visible limits.
₁ William Feaver, Frank Auerbach (Rizzoli, 2009), p. 20.
₂ Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach (London: Thames & Hudson, 1990), p. 80.
₃ Feaver, Frank Auerbach, p. 19.
Study for Sacrificial Figure, 1952
Gilded shell bronze and wire
20 x 23.5 x 15 cm.
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Offer Waterman, London
Private Collection, UK, Leeds
Osborne Samuel, London
The Sculpture of Reg Butler , Margaret Garlake, published by the Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2006, cat, no.110, illustrated in colour Plate 8, p.22
British Surrealism in Context: A Collector’s Eye, published by Jeremy Millings Publishings, 2009 to accompany the exhibition of the same title at Leeds City Art Gallery, 10th July – 1st November , 2009, p.127
Hanover Gallery, London, 1954
Curt Valentine, 1955, Cat no. 15
J B Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, Reg Butler ‘A Retrospective Exhibition , October 22 – December 1, 1963, cat no.49
Museum of Modern Art (Mima), British Surrealism & Other Realities, Middlesborough, 23 May -17 August, 2008
Leeds Art Gallery, British Surrealism in Context: A Collector’s Eye, 10th July – 1st November , 2009,
Hepworth Wakefield, Post-War British Sculpture and Painting, 5 May 2012 – 3 November 2013
Reg Butler’s powerful Study for Sacrificial Figure was conceived concurrently with his prizewinning submission for ‘The Unknown Political Prisoner’ competition in 1952. Suggesting an elongated horse’s head, it appears half-flesh, half-skeleton, with sockets for eyes and twisted cage for a muzzle.
Butler created two sculptures titled Study for Sacrificial Figure, both exhibited at his solo Hanover Gallery exhibition in 1954. ₁ Tantalisingly, there is no visual record of the larger unlocated work, yet a context for both can be amplified through chronologically adjacent sculptures. Early maquettes for the ‘Unknown Political Prisoner’ monument (1952) imply confined figures, St Catherine (relief) (1953) consists of a wheel and racked torso, while the subject of Study for Figure Falling (1953) twists convulsively within its frame: all are victims. Through them, we can trace Butler’s interest in Germaine Richier’s sculpture, with its emphasis on the metamorphic, mutilated figure, as well as a close reading of Freud, focusing on notions of the ‘primitive’, the fetish and the sacrificial object.
Between 1951 and 1952 Butler had fluctuated between using iron, to create forged and welded sculpture, and a new technique: shell bronze. The process was laborious, involving creating a model, then a plaster mould, ‘pasting’ on shell bronze using oxyacetylene, then welding the cast sections together. Its principal advantage lay in the ability to replicate detail with great sensitivity, its disadvantage in the time required to patinate the resulting sculpture by gilding. Yet the technique’s liberating potential is instantly apparent. Butler had begun to feel constrained by the dominance of iron, as well as a need, in his sculpture, ‘to establish a greater physical presence, more directly related to the subject’. ₂ In Study for Sacrificial Figure the wax, poured and modelled over an armature, remains visible in the casting as a molten skin: an effect both tactile and shocking in its immediacy.
Butler’s Study for Sacrificial Figure was included in a solo exhibition at New York’s Curt Valentin Gallery in 1955. Reviewing it for The New York Times, Stuart Preston considered Butler to be one of the most vital artists to have emerged in Britain since the war. He identified Marini’s influence, in figures that were ‘strained, almost tormented, in their expressive distortions’, continuing,
They are stripped down to bone and muscle to which skin clings tightly as cerements. Economical and tense, heads thrown back and legs and arms akimbo, they electrify the space about them. ₃
Vital to this ability to animate space was the inclusion of plates, blocks and protruding wires, suggesting the sculptures’ means of construction at the same time as connecting them to the real world. In Study for Sacrificial Figure the result is complex. What might be a found object, relic of an apocalyptic disaster, might equally be a totemic head, accessory to an unspecified ritual.
Modern photographs of this work, taken in profile, have encouraged its identification as an animal’s head. Butler was himself a keen photographer, adept, as Margaret Garlake notes, at ‘exploiting contrasts of tone and lighting to create a minor drama in almost every print’. ₄ From 1949 onwards Butler took considerable care to document his work, also using photography as a tool to gauge the potential scale of a sculpture. Thus it is intriguing that the catalogue for a retrospective at the J. B. Speed Art Museum at Louisville in 1963, which included small-scale images of each of Butler’s sixty-one sculptures, shows Study for Sacrificial Figure photographed from above. ₅ From this vantage the sculpture appears quite different: a tortured figure, quasi-human, with spine arched, arms thrust outwards, and a piteous head. Voids which suggested eye sockets now imply wounds to the torso, and the twisted fuselage beneath the sculpture perhaps indicates a rack, or its tethering to the ground. While the photographer is uncredited (was it Butler, or did he approve the image?), it seems clear that either interpretation is valid, and that this compelling sculpture derives its strength from such ambiguity.
Even as he struggled to articulate his thoughts on Butler’s new work, destined for the Venice Biennale in 1952, Herbert Read had noted as much. The British Pavilion included six sculptures by Butler (three iron, three bronze), identified as single female figures, a couple (girl and boy), and an insect. Tracing their origin to a ‘precise study of the morphology of nature’, Read identified Butler’s mode of transformation as the interchange of species to create ‘convincing hybrids, endowed with vitality and grace’. ₆ Study for Sacrificial Figure, contemporary with this reading, hovers uncannily between categories – between animal, human and object.
1.The Hanover Gallery exhibition catalogue lists Study for Sacrificial Figure (1952), length 11”, cat. 5, and Study for Sacrificial Figure (1952), length 22”, cat. 6. The catalogue entry (no. 110, p. 134) in Margaret Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler (Lund Humphries / The Henry Moore Foundation, 2006), conflates these two sculptures.
2. Reg Butler, ‘The Venus of Lespugue and Other Naked Ladies’, The William Townsend Lecture (11 November 1980), quoted in Reg Butler (London: The Tate Gallery, 1983), p. 89.
3. Stuart Preston, ‘Recent Sculpture and Painting’, The New York Times (16 January 1955).
4. Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler, p. 60.
5. Reg Butler (J. B. Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, 1963), cat. 49. The catalogue includes an essay by the curator, Addison Franklin Page (1911–1999), who visited Butler at his studio in 1960.
6. Herbert Read, ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’, catalogue essay for the XXVI Biennale, Venice (1952).
Maquette V Two Winged Figures, 1973
48.2 x 44 x 23 cm.
Stamped with artist's monogram, 'CHADWICK', reference number 672, dated and numbered from the edition
Edition of 6
André Simoens Knokke
Lex Daniels, Amsterdam
Bought from Simoens early 80s
Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2014, p.297, cat.no.672
The winged figure, often presented as a pair, threads through Chadwick’s sculpture from the mid-1950s onwards. Early examples often danced in duet, their wings splayed in courtship ritual. In 1962, Chadwick transformed the idea completely, starkly abstracting its form to resemble aeroplane wings: Two Winged Figures, constructed from plate steel at an industrial works in Italy, and painted bright yellow and black, towered above the viewer.
If there was always a dialogue between the human and the machine, by the early 1970s Chadwick’s imagery had settled in favour of the former. Maquette V Two Winged Figures (1973) is, on balance, more human than otherwise. The wings, folded downwards, resemble robes. The female figure is clearly identifiable as such, broad-hipped and round-breasted, while the square shoulders of the male figure determine the geometric fall of his tunic and wings. But the head? So often in Chadwick’s sculpture this is where ambiguity concentrates. Heads resemble beaks, science-fiction jaws, insectoid mandibles, square television monitors. Sometimes they are reduced almost to invisibility, seeding doubt as to their sentience. In Maquette V Two Winged Figures, characteristically, Chadwick uses a cube and pyramid to denote difference. Proportionally in relation to each figure’s torso, and borne erect, they give cause for reassurance – yet the frisson of alterity persists.
Oblique I, 1978
Oil on canvas
76 x 76 cm.
The New Art Centre, London, no:106/25
For paintings such as Oblique I, inspiration came from surprising and unexpected sources. Clough’s ‘source photos’ and sketchbooks indicate that a patch of worn paint or tarmac might generate a compositional idea or even an entire painting. Thickly painted, thermoplastic road markings on a familiar walk, could easily find themselves rearranged and transferred to one of her paintings. Similarly, a row of twisted, steel rebars sticking out of a reinforced concrete wall could catch her eye. The random positioning of the hook profiles here set up a rhythmic idea which contrasts with the more angular, geometric patterning.
A curious feature of Clough’s technique was not only the manner in which she applied pigment, but also the way in which she removed it from surface of her canvasses; this was part of a never-ending quest to create interesting surface textures. Paint would be scraped and gouged off the surface while it was still wet, or even after it had dried and abrasive scourers would be used to scrub away a patch of pigment to achieved a more varied and pictorially interesting effect.
Dancer in a Landscape, 1943
Pencil, charcoal and conté crayon and gouache on paper
45.9 x 58.65 cm.
Christopher Hull Gallery
Private collection, UK 1992
Private Collection, UK
Ian Collins, John Craxton, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2011, p.49, illustrated pl.43
Dancer in a Landscape belongs to a series of images, painted or drawn by Craxton in the early 1940s, depicting solitary figures. He later described them as projections of himself, ‘derived from Blake and Palmer. They were my means of escape and a sort of self protection. A shepherd is a lone figure, and so is a poet.’ ₁
Poet in a Landscape and Dreamer in Landscape (now in the Tate collection) are dense pen and ink drawings, reproduced in Horizon in March 1942. In each, a seated figure appears oblivious of the encroaching vegetation, gnarled trunks and roots. Craxton’s lithographs for The Poet’s Eye (1944) likewise depict tin-helmeted figures, seated, lost in reverie amid moonlit landscapes, or half-concealed within trees.
By contrast, Dancer in a Landscape is lighter in mood. In the summer of 1943 Craxton travelled with Peter Watson and Graham Sutherland to St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire, where he sketched alongside Sutherland. As he recalled,
There were cloudless days and the land was reduced to basic elements of rocks, fig trees, gorse, the nearness of sea on all sides, a brilliant clear light. Everything was stripped away – all the verbiage, that is – to the essential sources of existence. ₂
This simplification is apparent in the clarity and lightness of Dancer in a Landscape. There is a joyous sense of movement in the depiction of the river, tussocks of grass, and soft shading of the figure, as well as the delicately feathered tree and spidery clouds. Throughout the composition, Craxton seems to delight in the possibilities of mark-making, lightening with chalk and adding touches of green and sepia
₁ John Craxton, in ‘John Craxton: Paintings and Drawings 1941–1966’, exhibition catalogue (Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1967), p. 6.
₂ Craxton, ibid.
November 58, 1958
Oil and gouache on paper
70 x 45 cm.
Signed and dated lower right
The Waddington Galleries, London
Private Collection, UK (purchased from the above by an long term employee of the gallery)
Offer Waterman & Co, London
Private Collection, UK
The Waddington Galleries, London
Offer Waterman & Co, London
‘My main interest, in my painting, has always been in colour, space and light…and space in colour is the subject of my painting today to the exclusion of everything else’
Patrick Heron 1958
In 1956 Heron returned to Cornwall after spending over a decade in London and inspired by the gardens surrounding his new home Eagles Nest, he began his ‘stripe paintings’ and his first ‘garden paintings.’ The development from his figurative work was in part a response to the work of American Abstract Expressionists whose work he saw as bringing ‘a new kind of energy and inventiveness’, but also from the continual influence of the great French colourists Bonnard and Matisse. From 1958 he began to paint fields of colour containing soft edged squares and discs. In 1963 the critic Norbert Lynton wrote the defining phrase about Heron’s latest paintings, ‘it is not possible even to distinguish significantly between the forms and the colour fields they inhabit’.
Figure with Mirror and Easel, 1962
Oil on canvas
182.88 x 137.16 cm.
The development of Kinley’s work, by the early 1960s, was evident in two solo exhibitions at Paul Rosenberg & Co., East Seventy-ninth Street, New York. Reviewing the first, Stuart Preston had reservations about Kinley’s highly abstracted figure, landscape and still-life subjects, ‘knifed on to the canvas’. ₁ A second review, in 1962, detected ‘a far sterner and more streamlined approach’:
A strong sense of geometrical planning, dispensing with any realistic superficialities, underlies these powerfully impersonal conceptions, where faces are all but erased and human personality dependent for realization on pose and gesture. ²
This was the year in which Figure with Mirror and Easel (1962) was painted, one of several to address this theme. The figure is treated monumentally, quasi-sculpturally – endowed with weight, yet no more than a silhouette. In a composition approaching life-size, Kinley deftly juxtaposes slabs and bands of colour to create an image riddled with uncertainty. The mirror, reflecting the figure, reflects also an unseen space.
₁ Stuart Preston, ‘Art: Gallery Variety’, The New York Times (14 January 1961), p. 47.
² Stuart Preston, ‘The Week’s International Scope’, The New York Times (11 November 1962), p. 161.
Maquette for Square Form with Cut, 1969
20.5 x 13.5 x 20.4 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 9 on the back of the base
Edition of 9
Annely Juda Fine Art, London (acquired from the artist in 1971)
Private Collection (Acquired from the above, 1971)
Osborne Samuel, London
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, 1964-73, London, 1977, no. 597 (another cast illustrated, p. 57).
Maquette for Square Form with Cut (1969) is a sculpture in its own right, beautifully conceived and realised. Softly patinated, its intimate scale draws the viewer close, to experience first its weight and compactness, then its gentle tilt, encouraging light to gleam upon and enhance its contours. The most satisfying aspect of the maquette is its completeness: despite the cut and void, its surfaces are seamless, its proportions inviting the hand to reach into the centre and lift it. Thus it is intriguing to follow its transformation into one of Moore’s largest sculptures.
Not long after completing the maquette, Moore began to plan an exhibition for the Forte di Belvedere, a sixteenth-century fortress overlooking the city of Florence. Using maquettes and photographs, he envisaged the layout. In the case of Square Form with Cut, he installed first a working model in polystyrene, then a full-sized version in polystyrene and plaster, assembled on-site at the Forte di Belvedere. The final version, 5.45m high and weighing 180 tonnes, was carved from white Italian marble, cut into sixty horizontal sections to facilitate transport and lifting, by crane, over the ramparts. In images of the finished work in 1972, superbly photographed by David Finn against the skyline of Florence and its distant mountains, the ribbing of these sections can just be seen, adding a rhythmic texture and stratification to the sculpture. Moore made versions of the intermediate-sized working model in concrete, fibreglass and black marble. Each has its own aptness, while the maquette, as fons et origo, represents the idea’s unelaborated essence: the vital germ of the idea.
Ten Studies for Family Group, 1949-50
Pencil, ink and gouache on paper
29.2 x 24.2 cm.
Signed and dated 'Moore 49' recto and signed and dated verso 'Moore 50.'
Fischer Fine Art, London
A,Garrould, Henry Moore, Complete Drawings 1940-1949, Vol.3, Much Hadham, 2001, p. 276, no. AG 47-49.79; HMF 2468
D. Mitchinson, Henry Moore: Prints and Portfolios, Geneva 2010
Verso: ‘Study for Family Group’
Coloured crayon, wax crayon, watercolour wash
The sketch on verso is used in the 1949 collograph CGM 5
A group of a dozen or more maquettes owes its origin to an unrealised commission for Impington Village College, in Cambridgeshire. When the educationalist Henry Morris approached Moore, in the 1930s, it was with an inspirational vision to create a centre for the surrounding villages, designed by the architect Walter Gropius, to integrate art, music, lectures, plays and films into everyday life. Moore instantly lighted upon the subject of the family, as most appropriate. Although funds proved insufficient to fulfil the project at the time, the idea took root. In 1944, Morris again contacted Moore, who began to make sketches, then maquettes of family groups. Some were intended to be enlarged as bronze sculptures, but most were envisaged as stone carvings, Moore’s preferred medium for Impington. After nine months’ work, however, the project foundered, partly through lack of money, and partly due to the Education Authority’s lack of enthusiasm for Moore’s maquettes. Some years later, the ideas were developed as two significant commissions: Family Group (1948-9), in bronze for Barclay School in Stevenage, and Family Group (1954-5), in stone for Harlow New Town.1
Contemplating the Impington commission, Moore filled two sketchbooks with family groups. The compositions varied between one- and two-children families, with the children (of different ages) seated or standing. Some are more abstract than others, some figures contain holes, others have vestigial or split heads. The female figure is often swathed in a shawl or dress, and sometimes a blanket is draped, tenderly, over both figures’ knees. Moore regarded these sketches not only as generating ideas for sculpture but as a means of clarifying the subject in his mind: with a battery of possibilities before him, he could choose which to refine and take forward. In conversation with David Sylvester, Moore later identified the family group as his last significant subject to be developed through this process of drawing. 2
1 See Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 89, 273-5.
2 Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’ (7 June 1963), BBC Third Programme. See also Alice Correia, ‘Maquette for Family Group 1945 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, Tate Research Publications (2014)
Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 1, 1960
12.5 x 24.2 x 10.5 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition on top of the base. Stamped with the foundry mark 'H. NOACK BERLIN' (on the side of the base)
Edition of 12
Acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, Maryland
A. Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1955-1964, Vol. 3, London, 2005, no. 473, p. 46 (another cast illustrated p. 47).
A cast from the edition is owned by MOMA, USA and The Kröller Müller, The Netherlands.
“I did the first sculpture in two pieces almost without intending to. But after I’d done it, then the second one became a conscious idea. I realised what an advantage a separated two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape.
[Moore] walked over to Reclining Figure No. II, put his hands on the knees and the breasts. ‘Knees and breasts are mountains,’ he said. ‘Once these two parts become separated, you don’t expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore, you can more justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock.’ ₁
Moore apparently separated the reclining figure almost without intention. Once done, however, he realised the potential of the act. Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (1959), enlarged from a maquette not dissimilar to the one illustrated here, was sited by William Keswick on his estate at Glenkiln in Scotland, where it could be seen isolated on the horizon. None of the sculptures Keswick positioned was visible from the house, or from one another. As Moore commented, ‘They are far apart. Not in sight of each other. Half a mile apart – or more. They possess their environment.’ ²
The landscape of rock and moor is a plausible location, too, for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 1 (1960). Presented as two discrete sections, it suggests a boulder split into parts related by form and texture. Both are square yet irregular, geometric yet organic: deep vertical grooves recur in each, recalling a fault in the rock. Whether the piece is imagined as abstract or as a figure – much as rocks in the landscape accrue the names of people or objects from their distinctive shapes – is in the viewer’s eye.
₁ Carlton Lake, ‘Henry Moore’s World’, Atlantic Monthly (January 1962), p. 44; quoted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 288.
² Moore, interviewed in Art and Artists (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1956), p. 104–7; quoted in Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, p. 282.
Bronze with brown patina
157 x 54 x 40 cm.
Signed, dated twice & inscribed 'Unikat' verso
Private Collection, Switzerland
Five slightly varying versions recorded, this unique work was the first one. (other versions are within the collections at the Tate, London, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh and Jesus College, Cambridge.
This work is recorded in the archives compiled by the late Professor Robin Spencer.
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus is a gift to sculptors: dramatic, tragic and containing vivid imagery. Daedalus was a maze-maker and master craftsman; Icarus his feckless son, who flew too close to the sun with wings his father made from feathers and wax. Their story was retold superbly by Paolozzi’s contemporary, Michael Ayrton, who translated its figures, also, to sculpture.
Paolozzi made his first versions of Daedalus and Icarus in 1949: reliefs and abstract constructions, consisting of tables, through which pegs, cross-bars and funnel shapes were inserted at right angles. He returned to Icarus in 1957, creating two large bronzes, each with pitiful stumps for wings. Daedalus (1990) is an emphatically figurative response, however, broached in the robust, mechanical vein of Paolozzi’s later work. Using a variation on the collage process, which had long fascinated him, Paolozzi would construct a form then fragment it – by slicing vertically and horizontally into geometrical parts – before reassembling. The method generated multiple options for reconstruction, which Paolozzi would capitalise upon by casting different permutations as he worked, thus creating series of ‘unique’ works on a theme. With Daedalus, there are five different versions, some mounted on wheeled trolleys.
In this, the first of the series, Daedalus holds two sections of a rod at shoulder height, and stands with each foot on a separate base, one in front of the other. According to legend, Daedalus’ statues were so lifelike they had to be tethered, lest they wandered free – a characteristic supposedly derived from their posture, feet staggered, as if ‘walking’. Paolozzi’s figure echoes this stance through its unevenly distributed weight. Rich in association, Daedalus has been suggested also as a self-portrait: Paolozzi, sculptor and master craftsman. ₁
₁ Judith Collins, Eduardo Paolozzi (Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2014), p. 285.
Death of a Working Hero, 2016
251 x 200 cm.
Signed by the artist
Edition of 6
Accompanied by a numbered certificate
In ‘Hard Man’, the first episode of his television series, All Man (2016), Grayson Perry went to north-east England to talk to former mine workers and cage fighters. He attended the blessing of the banners in Durham Cathedral, as part of the annual Miners’ Gala, when trade-union banners are carried through the streets accompanied by brass bands. Hearing the banners blessed, in the cathedral setting, struck him as ‘a funeral for a certain sort of man’.
Perry’s Death of a Working Hero (2016) draws from this experience, and from the examination of masculinity that structured the television series. Scrolled around the upper part of the tapestry is a text resonating with the well-known passage from Ecclesiastes 3 (‘To every thing there is a season’), reworded as ‘A time to fight, a time to talk, a time to change’. Between the sparring figures of a miner and cage fighter a small boy holds a teddy. Below, in a landscape of pit gear, iron bridges and cobbled streets, a funeral takes place. Those watching are not just the elderly, but children and young women dressed for a night out. With the closures of the pits, some Durham miners committed suicide. Perry spoke to a woman whose young son had taken his life, and recalled him as happy and fun-loving: ‘I feel like he wanted to die in that moment, but he didn’t want to die for ever’.
Addressing the depth and complexity of these feelings, Perry focuses on the veneer of masculinity. Bravado and tattoos are skin-deep: symbols of resilience, deflecting attention from the
vulnerability beneath. Tapping into the cultural history of the union banners,
and transposing their materiality provocatively into the sphere of fine art, Perry argues for change and equality.
Approaching Harvest, 1952
Oil on canvas
30.3 x 41 cm.
Signed and dated 'Reynolds 52' lower right
Redfern Gallery Ltd, London
Captain D. de Pass (purchased from the above 25 February 1953)
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London (no. 29595)
Private Collection, UK
Likely exhibited at: London, Redfern Gallery Ltd, Alan Reynolds, 1953, no.2
Alan Reynolds grew up in Suffolk, with its tradition of Gainsborough and Constable, and was drawn early to the landscape and to botany. Post-war he studied at Woolwich Polytechnic, then gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, but stayed only a year. He was already exhibiting at the Redfern, and his paintings – imbued with the spirit of Klee – were garnering acclaim. Such landscapes had as their basis a clear-eyed knowledge. Reynolds drew and painted assiduously from nature: grasses, seeds, dandelion clocks, growing tendrils and leaves. His studies, monochrome or coloured with gouache or watercolour, were annotated with neat ink observations about plant growth, crowded in margins or tentatively crossing the image. When Reynolds married Vona Darby, in 1957, his gift to her was an album filled with drawings, pressed flowers and seed pods. Yet such source material was neither collected nor plundered unthinkingly. Reynolds described his quest for structure as a process whereby a ‘subject or motif must be transformed and become an organic whole’.1 Reynolds’ stated aim can be linked to his passion for music, in particular fugues or contrapuntal textures. It is therefore not surprising that he was attuned also to the rhythm of nature, which follows a parallel cycle of statement, development, recapitulation and cadence. In the mid-1950s Reynolds painted a quartet of paintings based on the seasons, which extended to a satellite series of around ninety drawings, watercolours and preliminary studies in oils, exhibited at the Redfern Gallery in 1950’s. By coincidence, after Reynolds had begun this series the Contemporary Art Society invited some sixty British painters and sculptors to create a work based on ‘The Seasons’. The resulting exhibition was held at the Tate from March to April 1956, running concurrently with Reynolds’ solo exhibition at the Redfern.
The Tate purchased in the same year, Alan Reynold’s Summer: Young September’s Cornfield.
Approaching Harvest dates from this important period in Reynolds career, the organic forms a still life within the reduced but richly painted landscape. The rhythms of elements weave around the structure, requiring the viewer’s gaze to nimbly move across the patterned surface.
1.Reynolds, in Alan Reynolds, (London: Redfern Gallery, 1953
Thorn Trees, Spring, 1967
Oil on canvas
54.61 x 45.69 cm.
Signed and dated upper left Also signed with initials, inscribed, dedicated and dated again 'P.A and FRAU ADE/a souvenir/of/11 March 1967/with friendship./G.S. 30.V.67/THORN TREES. SPRING' verso
Mr & Mrs Peter Ade, München
Thence by descent
Private Collection, Germany
PA are the initials of Peter Ade, the Director of Haus der Kunst in München . A gift by the artist in recognition of the assistance Peter Ade gave with a travelling exhibition of Sutherland’s work in 1967. ( Haus der Kunst München, 11. March – 7. May 1967; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, 2. June – 30. July 1967; Haus am Waldsee Berlin, 11. August – 24. September 1967; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Köln, 7. October – 20. November, 1967.)
This painting clearly relates in structure to two earlier versions of the same subject from the 1940’s, one now held in the British Council and the second at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, New York).
In the 1940s Sutherland began a series of paintings based on thorns. Walking in the country, and preoccupied with a commission for a Crucifixion , he began to notice ‘ thorn bushes and the structure of thorns, which pierced the air in all directions, their points establishing limits of aerial space’ . Drawing them, he observed a strange transformation take place: the thorns rearranged themselves into ‘ a paraphrase of the Crucifixion and the Crucified Head – the cruelty’ .1 Kenneth Clark described the resulting trees, heads and crosses as akin to metaphors in poetry, their freely created forms more vivid and personal for using imagery not already ‘ deadened by use’ .2
The context for these works for Sutherland, a Catholic, was deeply meaningful. In the early post-war years he received commissions from the Reverend Walter Hussey for a Crucifixion and Noli me tangere , respectively for St Matthew’ s, Northampton, and Chichester Cathedral. More significant still was the tapestry commissioned by Basil Spence as a focal point for the new Cathedral at Coventry (1962), a monumental sign of hope abutting the ruins of its war-blasted predecessor. At Coventry, Sutherland’ s Christ in Majesty was complemented sensitively by an altar set from Geoffrey Clarke, itself alluding to the bitter piercing of thorns.
Among Sutherland’ s ‘ thorn’ paintings, a cluster of Thorn Crosses evokes altar sets. The trinity of forms in Thorn Trees, Spring (1967) likewise suggests a cross and candlesticks, or perhaps a crucifixion witnessed by mourners: such is the malleability and suggestibility of Sutherland’ s imagery. Especially potent is the painting’ s confluence of death and renewal – sere thorns cloaked in the verdure of a fresh season. The contrast was one Sutherland had originally hoped to exploit in his commission for St Matthew’ s, Northampton, as he explained:
I would have liked to paint the Crucifixion against a blue sky … in benign circumstances: blue skies, green grass, Crucifixion[s] under warmth – and blue skies are, in a sense, more powerfully horrifying.3
1. Graham Sutherland, ‘ Thoughts on Painting’ , The Listener (6 September 1951), p. 378, quoted in ‘ An Exhibition of Painting and Drawings by Graham Sutherland’ (Arts Council and Tate Gallery, 1953), unpaginated.
2. Kenneth Clark, introduction to ‘ An Exhibition of Painting and Drawings by Graham Sutherland’ (Arts Council and Tate Gallery, 1953), unpaginated.
3. Sutherland, ‘ Thoughts on Painting’ , The Listener (6 September 1951), republished in Graham Sutherland, Correspondences: Selected Writings on Art , ed. Julian Andrews (Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Foundation, 1982), p. 73.
Female Figure, 1988, 1988
190.5 x 101.6 x 50.8 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 6
Edition of 6
Waddington Galleries Ltd, London
Private Collection USA, purchased from the above in 1989
Osborne Samuel, London
Private Collection, Canada (purchased from the above in 2014)
Davidson, Amanda, The Sculpture of William Turnbull , published by Lund Humphries, 2005, p.175, no. 263
Waddington Galleries, Solo exhibition, 1991, cat 9 (illus. p.23)
The idols Turnbull made in the 1980s revisit forms from the 1950s, demonstrating an essential seam within his sculptural thinking. Female Figure (1980) presents a vertical slab, scrolled at the top to suggest a head, gently scored towards the base to imply a robe. Arms become curved pipes, a counter-positioned wedge suggests feet, but the most salient feature is the figure’s breasts, implausibly and voluptuously placed.
The figure clearly suggests fertility: a goddess or idol, resonating with both ancient and more recent history. In rituals – whether pagan or religious – the chalice or jug is often equated with birth, as a parallel to the pregnant figure. One of the most significant transferences within modern sculpture is Germaine Richier’s L’Eau (1953), or Water, in which she incorporated the fragment of a terracotta amphora, found on a beach at Camargue, as the neck of a seated figure. The hooped handles of the vessel, just as the arms of Turnbull’s Female Figure, evoke a symbolic link to water, a source for life.
Slim in profile, despite its towering height and material heft, Female Figure evinces both grace and a sense of joyousness, expressed by its arms – curved, hand on hip, or open to embrace. There is a recapturing, too, of the spirit of Acrobat (1951), made at the beginning of Turnbull’s career, who balances exuberantly and fearlessly, arms outstretched.
Leaf Venus 2, 1986
Bronze on York stone base
132 x 41 x 20.5 cm.
Signed with monogram, stamped with foundry mark, dated and numbered from the edition of 4
Edition of 4
Waddington Galleries, London
Ann Kendall Richards, New York, June 2000
Private Collection, USA
Osborne Samuel, London
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, London, Waddington Galleries, 1987, p. 53, no. 20, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, 1992, no. 5, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, London, Serpentine Gallery, 1995, p. 65, pl. 45, another cast illustrated.
A.A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, Much Hadham, 2005, pp. 51-52, 68, 168, no. 240, another cast illustrated.
London, Waddington Galleries, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, October – November 1987, no. 20, p.53
Annely Juda Fine Art, From Picasso to Abstraction, June – September 1989
Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, October – November 1992, no. 5
London, Serpentine Gallery, William Turnbull: Bronze Idols and Untitled Paintings, Nov. 1995 – Jan.1996, no.45, p.65
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, William Turnbull, October – November, 1998
Encountering Leaf Venus 2, what does it suggest? Leaf, or goddess? Close to human scale, its blade-thin, verdigris form is marked by sparse, discreet indentations.
William Turnbull began to make ‘Idols’ in the mid-1950s: simplified structures whose totality could be grasped in a glance. Their presence was primal, evoking – though not mimicking – works from other civilisations. At the British Museum, Turnbull had studied Cycladic and African sculpture, as well as utilitarian objects, such as spoons, which possessed symbolic significance. His contribution to the radical exhibition ‘This is Tomorrow’, in 1956, was Sun Gazer, a mysterious ovoid on a pedestal. Turnbull amplified his intention in the catalogue:
Sculpture used to look ‘modern’; now we make objects that might have been dug up at any point in the past forty thousand years. Sculpture = totemic object. It can exist inside or outside architectural space.
In 1979, after a gap of seventeen years, Turnbull returned to making ‘Idols’ in bronze, fashioning a series of small masks, figures and torsos. The continuity with earlier work is evident, yet there is also difference. In sculptures from the mid-1980s onwards, such as Leaf Venus 2, sculptural weight and solidity have been replaced by slenderness: an audacious balancing of wafer-thin forms. Considering such works, David Sylvester recalled Turnbull’s question, ‘How little will suggest a head?’, invoking by comparison the artist’s emptied-out canvases of the 1950s, in which brush-strokes activate monochrome surfaces.
Amanda Davidson, in The Sculpture of William Turnbull, links the origin of Leaf Venus 2 to drawings of plants made in Singapore in 1963. 1. Turnbull related it to skateboards used by his sons; a jarring cultural appropriation, but correlating neatly with Leaf Venus’s form, its slim volume and gently curved surfaces. David Sylvester further suggested aircraft wings, which had been a visual constant during Turnbull’s four years as a wartime pilot in the RAF. 2. All are possible, indeed likely.
Sun Gazer (1959), as distinct from the 1956 sculpture of the same title, was sited outside Kingsdale School as part of an initiative by the London County Council’s Architect’s Department ‘to expose children to the most challenging and experimental manifestations of contemporary art’. 3. Sun Gazer relates directly to Leaf Venus 2. Horizontal rather than vertical, it is essentially a slim leaf form, with ridged and gashed surface markings, although the depth and legibility of this scarring is greater.
In Eugene Rosenberg’s photograph of Sun Gazer (1959), a girl in school uniform studies the sculpture. A young teacher looks on, while further pupils can be seen watching from open windows on the upper floor. We can never know what they were thinking, but the placement of the sculpture, against the modernist brick, steel and concrete architecture of Leslie Martin, is undoubtedly daring. Light, and the skilful black-and-white photograph, emphasise the strangeness of Turnbull’s sculpture – a space-age found object.
The challenge, with the smoother-surfaced Leaf Venus 2, is to register its presence through photographs: the sculpture’s surface lines and dots, ciphers across and around its slender mass, may all too easily be easily missed. Such markings subdivide the leaf, providing symmetry (dots in the centre, lines to the perimeter). Yet the effect, as with Sun Gazer, remains equivocal. Leaf Venus 2 is an object both self-sufficient and referential, clearly articulated and numinous.
1.Amanda A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull (Aldershot: The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2005), p. 52.
2. David Sylvester, ‘Bronze Idols and Untitled Paintings’, in William Turnbull: sculpture and paintings (London: Merrell Holberton Publishers and the Serpentine Gallery, 1995), unpaginated.
3. Richard Cork, in Architect’s Choice: Art and Architecture in Great Britain since 1945 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992), p. 34, illustrated p. 35.
Road to the Sea (Foreshore), 1953-1958
Oil on paper on board
26 x 37 cm.
Titled verso in the artist's hand, with exhibition labels
Royal West of England Academy, 1958
Laurence Ogilvie Esq, purchased from above
Private Collection, UK
Massey & Hepworth, Keith Vaughan, The Mature Oils 1946-77, Sansom & Company, Bristol, 2012, p.110, cat no. AH274
Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, Spring Exhibition, 1958, cat.no. 104
Bath Festival Exhibition, Loan Exhibition of Paintings from Private Collections, June, 1963, cat. no.33
Bristol City Art Gallery, 1987-1990
The genesis of Road to the Sea (Foreshore) has been clarified by Gerard Hastings. A painting originally titled Foreshore (1953) was altered and reworked by Vaughan in 1958 – removing an upturned boat in the foreground – prior to inclusion in that year’s Spring Exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol.₁ It thus takes its context among Vaughan’s numerous visits to Ireland in the late 1950s, and particularly in relation to his journey around the West Coast, north to Donegal, in September 1957. Vaughan made numerous sketches which he later elaborated in his studio at Belsize Park in London, noting at the time,
I seem to be purposefully trying to make a composition of mutual contradictions. Figures which aren’t figures, landscape space which is something else, shapes which are neither abstract nor figurative.²
In Road to the Sea (Foreshore), Vaughan presents the familiar image of a single figure, facing outwards, amid a setting that Hastings reads as a deserted cove, enclosed by steep rocks and mossy cliffs. The tone is muted, the landscape abstracted in blocks of colour, while the figure crooks its left arm, perhaps to hold an object, or to check the time. There is no sense of which direction this figure has taken, or why it has paused. On this small scale, Vaughan makes every brushstroke tell, through its direction and viscosity. The sky, scoured with implication, lightens indecisively at the horizon.
₁ Gerard Hastings, ‘Keith Vaughan: Myth, Mortality and the Male Figure’, in Keith Vaughan: Myth, Mortality and the Male Figure, exhibition catalogue (London: Osborne Samuel, 2019), p. 12.
² Keith Vaughan, Journal (27 November 1957), from Keith Vaughan, Journal and Drawings 1939–1965 (London: Alan Ross, 1966), p. 146.