Cecil Collins
The Quest 1938

Artwork details

Cecil Collins 1908–1989
The Quest
Date 1938
Medium Oil paint on board
Dimensions Support: 1104 x 1473 x 6 mm
frame: 1225 x 1590 x 88 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by Elisabeth Collins, the artist's widow, through the Art Fund 2001
Not on display

Display caption

In a small red boat, equipped with neither sails nor oars, six people with white, staring faces float among treacherous, blackened icebergs. This mysterious painting has been interpreted in different ways; in particular, it has been linked to TS Eliot's poem The Waste Land, and its references to Arthurian legend and the search for the Holy Grail. In general, Collins seems to have been concerned with the corrupting influence of the material world. This concern was gathering strength at the time he was working on this painting, in the autumn on 1938, on the eve of the Second World War.

September 2004

About this artwork