Catalogue entry

T02074 THE PLAYERS 1919

Inscribed ‘Bomberg / 19’ b.r.
Pen and ink drawing, 10 1/4 × 7 3/4 (26 × 19.7)
Presented by the artist's widow 1976
Exh: Adelphi Gallery 1919?; Bomberg, Fischer Fine Art, March–April 1973 one of a group of works of the same title catalogue nos. 77–85

One of a series of pen and ink drawings on Army stationary executed in 1919 and subsequently exhibited at the Adelphi Gallery run by Frank Rutter at 9 Duke Street. No copy of the catalogue of this exhibition is known, but presumably T02074 was included.

In his monograph David Bomberg (London 1967) William Lipke quotes from the artist's writings on this series: The drawings, Bomberg wrote, were ‘done as a relief from the concentrated work on the memorial panel [Canadian War Memorial, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa]. They were on fine paper in ink and washes and line’. (Lipke op. cit. p.48.) Lipke further quotes Bomberg's description of the plan of the series: ‘...done in twelve parts, each part having twelve variations, each drawing was based on one of twelve patterns, the key to the whole. Each drawing had to be different; one might be groups of fishermen and nets, the other Ballet scenes or dancers. The problem: to expand the possibilities of one combination of forms into as many variations to exhaustion of possibilities without altering the juxtapositions, but slightly modifying and stressing the parts of the key. This was to prove that form plays one part, content another. Both can operate within one another but [remain] basically unrelated’ (Lipke, op. cit., p.48).

Also according to Lipke, in his essay ‘Structures in textures of colour’ in the catalogue of the Arts Council exhibition David Bomberg 1890–1957, Tate Gallery 2 March–9 April 1967 and subsequently on tour, there are ‘some one hundred and twenty four’ of these drawings. This seems to indicate that Bomberg did not fully complete the series.

The subject of T02074 is actors (i.e. players) on stage at the Pavilion Theatre at Whitechapel, apparently commonly known as The Ghetto Theatre; ‘players’ appears to have been one of the twelve themes of the whole series.

The design has been traced in wash on the verso of the sheet.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979