Edward Burra
Soldiers at Rye 1941

Artwork details

Edward Burra 1905–1976
Soldiers at Rye
Date 1941
Medium Gouache, watercolour and ink on paper
Dimensions Support: 1022 x 2070 mm
frame: 1248 x 2280 x 90
Acquisition Presented by Studio 1942
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1940

Display caption

Rye, a picturesque town near the south coast, was Burra's life-long home. During the war it became a centre for military activity. Soldiers are turned into nightmarish birdmen that recall the Surrealist paintings of the German artist Max Ernst and Burra's own work of the early Thirties. The artist was interested in sixteenth-century English poetry, and the bright colours and stylised dress might suggest courtly combat. Such ideas of brutality and heroism are offset by the attention to the figures' buttocks that creates a homosexual frisson through the scene.

August 2004

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