Eric Gill 1882 - 1940


The Fine Art Society, London, 'Sculpture in Britain Between the Wars', 1986


Joseph Thorp, Eric Gill, London, 1929 pl.34


Given the subsequent fame, even the notoriety, of his life drawing, it is astonishing to learn that Gill only seems to have taken it up in 1926 when he was already forty-four years old. This virtuoso work, dating from only a year or so later, reveals the extraordinary speed with which Gill had developed his masterly and distinctive drawing style. This was based, significantly, on the fact that he did not believe life drawing to be a necessity for his work as a sculptor but rather that such studies should be undertaken largely as an end in themselves. His models came mostly from among his family and friends rather than professional models whom he felt to be full of art-school conventions about poses and attitudes. This was a practice which also had much to do with his passionate belief that life drawing was a thing of feeling, love and imagination not a cold, photographic recording. What Gill sought passionately in a drawing such as this were 'the things that I love; the round and the sharp, the firm and the flowing and things clear and clean'.