In this week’s edition of Hidden Gems, Liss Llewellyn are delighted to unveil Full-length.Whilst full-length figure painting was a staple of art schools in the twentieth-century and a tradition that was given renewed impetus in the second half of the century by artists such as Freud and Bacon – the greatest invention of the century, Abstraction, was in essence conceived in opposition to figurative art.
Nevertheless, full-length figures remained central to many of the principal genres of the twentieth century including portraiture, allegorical compositions, and depictions of everyday life. And while not as conspicuously modern’ as their non-figurative contemporaries, many artists in this selection used the human form in quietly pioneering ways.
Full-length is certainly an unusual mode to elect for a self-portrait, and Colin Gill (1892-1940) does just this with his 1910 watercolour. Painted shortly after he had enrolled at the Slade School, this image shows Gill as the confident Bohemian, who mixed with Augustus John, Mark Gertler, and William Roberts at the Cafe Royal in Piccadilly.
Friends and relatives are chosen as the subject, elsewhere in the selection. There’s Barnett Freedman’s (1901-1958) long, almost serpentine painting of a man who is believed to have been his contemporary at the RCA. Or Edith Granger-Talyor’s (1857-1958) The Liberty Scarf, which shows the artist’s sister-in-law, Olive Deakes, admiring her new accessory in a hand-held mirror. Furthermore, friends become collaborators in Frances Richards’ (1903-1985) Penitent Figure, as Margaret Pond assisted with the embroidery, rendering Richards’ distinctively full-length, sylphlike figures in yarn.