Mary Sargant Florence

Children at Chess

c.1903

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On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Mary Sargant Florence 1857–1954
Medium
Tempera on wood
Dimensions
Support: 902 x 400 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1949
Reference
N05960

Display caption

Mary Sargant Florence painted her children Philip (aged 13) and Alix (nine) engrossed in their game. The interlocking composition excludes the viewer and there is no sentimentality. The flat treatment of the paint surface, heightened by the matt finish of the egg tempera, focuses attention on the bold pattern of line and contrasted colours. A committed feminist, Sargant Florence brought up her children in an unconventional manner, encouraging their artistic talents. Alix later became a respected psychoanalyst, and Philip a celebrated economist.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

N05960 CHILDREN AT CHESS c. 1903
 
Inscr. ‘Sargant-Florence’ b.l.
Tempera on wood, 35 1/2×15 3/4 (90×40).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1949.
Exh: N.E.A.C., winter 1910 (28), as ‘A Game of Chess’; N.E.A.C. Retrospective Exhibition, January–February 1925 (44), and Manchester, April–May 1925 (160); Venice Biennale, 1930 (British Pavilion, 197); N.E.A.C., Paris, June–July 1938 (89); R.A., 1950 (78).
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1950, p.34.

The children are the artist's son and daughter; the son, Dr Philip Sargant Florence, is Professor of Commerce, University of Birmingham, and the daughter, Alix, afterwards married James Strachey (subject of the portrait by Duncan Grant, N05765).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I