Prunella Clough

The White Root

1946

Medium
Oil paint on board
Dimensions
Support: 505 x 395 mm
frame: 632 x 522 x 50 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1982
Reference
T03810

Display caption

Prunella Clough is one of Britain's most respected painters. She is this year's winner of the Jerwood Prize for painting, and Kettle's Yard in Cambridge recently organised a retrospective of her work. Clough's first solo show was at the Leger Galleries in 1947, and included still lifes and landscapes. Throughout the late 1940s, she frequented the Suffolk Coast and her paintings of the time often feature coastal subjects. 'The White Root', shown here, belongs to this phase and depicts a bleached root structure, a wooden box and other debris. Although Clough derived the subject from observed reality, she has characteristically developed the root's abstract qualities. It represents a natural object, but is also explored as a highly expressive form.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T03810 THE WHITE ROOT 1946

Oil on board 19 3/4 × 16 (505 × 395)
Inscribed ‘Clough’ and illegible date b.r. and on reverse ‘↑’ and ‘Mr Bowas....’ (illegible)
Purchased from Fischer Fine Art Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) 1982
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Fischer Fine Art Ltd.
Exh: Recent Paintings by Prunella Clough and Walter H. Nessler, The Leger Galleries, March–April 1947 (8); The British Neo-Romantics 1935–1950, Fischer Fine Art, July–August 1983, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, August–September 1983 (102)

Prunella Clough returned to painting in 1945, having left art school immediately before the war, and the earliest works in her retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1960 were of this date. She visited the Suffolk coast from her home in London, and many of her paintings of these years have coastal subjects. The artist has confirmed that these scenes were neither discovered nor arranged in this way, but were deliberate reconstructions.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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