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Provenance

G E Speck, 1958
Howard Bliss Sale, Christie’s, London, 13th November 1986, lot 200, whence acquired by the present owner

Exhibitions

London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Cecil Collins: A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, 1959, no.58
London, The Leicester Galleries, New Paintings by Cecil Collins, 1951, no.27

Literature

Kathleen Raine, 'Cecil Collins: The Platonic Painter', The Painter and Sculptor, A Journal of Visual Arts, Vol 1, Spring 1958, illustrated p26


Brian Keeble, The Artist as Writer and Image Maker, Golgonooza Press, Ipswich, 2009, illus colour pl 10

Description

British art has within it a tradition, much discussed over the years, of art that synthesizes and distils a very distinctive form, one which draws on both religious and secular imagery to produce works which are often drawn under a heading of ‘visionary’. The wildly different end products make this umbrella rather arbitrary, particularly when one thinks of artists as diverse as William Blake, Richard Dadd and Stanley Spencer, but the concept of an art which expresses the innermost thoughts is one which is certainly a feature of British art which is clearly discernible. Collins’ own work is often seen in this context, creating images of apparent simplicity but with deep and fundamental precepts. Certain themes run throughout his oeuvre, most particularly that of the Fool, the simple yet oddly wise figure who Collins depicted many times in his career. The artist saw the Fool as one who still retained an element of Paradise about him and the concept of Man’s Fall and subsequent loss of understanding whilst gaining knowledge was explored in many ways. Eve, in various manifestations, by whose actions Mankind was expelled from The Garden but also the mother of mankind, was a central part of this line of thought. One of Collins’ earliest extant works, of 1929, is entitled Maternity, but it is inscribed verso ‘Mother of Man’ and thus identifies this fecund figure with Eve. Further appearances of characters who relate to the Eve/Mother concept abound, and Collins’ draws in a particularly personal element by infusing his depictions of the female spirit, Anima, with his own image of Elizabeth, his wife and muse.