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T04900 Cassida 1986
Charcoal and pastel on wove paper 685 × 1014 (27 × 40); watermark ‘T.H. Saunders’
Inscribed ‘Dörflinger’ bottom centre
Purchased from Fischer Fine Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1987
‘Cassida’, which is mainly black with shades of grey, depicts a wing-like form with hatched and smudged areas, divided into sections by horizontal and vertical lines. On the right-hand side, a dark area of scumbled charcoal lines on some green and blue pastel includes a form that can be read as a leaf. Although not intended to be naturalistic, the drawing was inspired by the artist's observation of a beetle of the Cassidae family, after which it was titled. Cassids are leaf beetles, more commonly known as tortoise-shell beetles because of their markings. They are destructive to garden plants and their variegated, patterned shell, which can be highly coloured, is an effective disguise. Cassids are found in many parts of the world, including on the island of Gozo, near Malta, where T04900 was made. T04900 is the only work Dörflinger has made with a reference to a beetle in its title. In conversation with the compiler on 9 September 1991, Dörflinger described it as a light-hearted work in which he made conscious play on the relationship between the title and the motif. In retrospect, he said that he would probably have called the work by another title.
T04900 was made in the early summer of 1986 in the artist's studio on Gozo. In conversation with the compiler on 14 May 1989, Dörflinger said that ‘Cassida’ was related more closely to a number of pastels he made at this period than to other drawings in the Tate Gallery collection (see entries on T04899 and T04901-T04902). He added that the works on paper he made in the mid-1980s influenced a later series of pastels. One of these, ‘Light Hill’, 1987 (the artist, no repr.known), he felt, was related in composition to T04900.
In conversation on 9 September 1991 the artist said that he thought, with hindsight, that he had not brought ‘Cassida’ to the stage when it had ‘taken on its own reality’ and described it as ‘more like a botanical drawing’. For this reason he was unsure he would have released ‘Cassida’, had it still been in his possession.
The artist has approved this entry.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996