Eric Gill 1882 - 1940


Private Collection, UK


Anthony d’Offay, London, Eric Gill : A Centenary Exhibition, 12 May - 18 June 1982, cat no.31, illustrated


An engraving of the same subject is reproduced in Twenty-five Nudes engraved by Eric Gill, London 1938


Gill’s views on life drawing were, like so much else in his life and work, very much at odds with conventional artistic wisdom. Above all he did not believe life drawing to be a necessity for his work as a sculptor, and the fact that he does not appear to have taken it up until 1926 - when he was already 44 years old - shows he meant it too. He believed that such drawings should be undertaken as works of art in themselves, not as mere art-school exercises. To this end, and to avoid what he saw to be the conventions inherent in such practice in terms of poses and dry academic routine, he tended to use family and friends, people he knew and who were relaxed with him, to act as his models. All of this must have had some bearing on the remarkable speed with which Gill developed his life-drawing style: from the still rather stiff treatments of his 1926 nudes, he demonstrates here, just one year later, a flowing virtuosity in his approach to the figure. Drawing becomes an activity filled not only 'with the things that I love; the round and the sharp, the firm and the flowing and things clear and clean' but full of an intense charge of sensuous physical feeling and poetic imagination