F.E. McWilliam

Cain and Abel

1952

Medium
Aluminium on wooden base
Dimensions
Object: 460 x 391 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1953
Reference
N06164

Display caption

In late 1952 McWilliam exhibited a group of work called 'Cain and Abel' at the Hanover Gallery in London. It consisted of drawings and five sculptures made from different materials. This work was made later the same year as a maquette for the 'Unknown Political Prisoner' competition, where it won an Arts Council National Prize. The artist choose this title for his entry because it was, he wrote, 'a symbol of man's eternal persecution of man, of which the political prisoner is but the contemporary symptom.'

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N06164 CAIN AND ABEL 1952

Not inscribed.
Aluminium, 18 1/8×8×15 3/8 (46×20·5×39).
Purchased from the International Sculpture Competition (Grant-in-Aid) 1953.
Exh: International Sculpture Competition: The Unknown Political Prisoner, New Burlington Galleries, January 1953 (11), and Tate Gallery, March–May 1953 (19).
Repr: Studio, CXLVIII, 1954, p.144.

The artist exhibited five drawings and five versions (two in metal and wire, one in metal and two in wood) of the group ‘Cain and Abel’ at the Hanover Gallery in October–November 1952 (12–16). The present version was made later in 1952 as a maquette for the Unknown Political Prisoner Competition, where it won an Arts Council National Prize of £25. The artist wrote (22 May 1953): ‘I took this as a symbol of man's eternal persecution of man, of which the political prisoner is but the contemporary symptom.... It is in a form of aluminium made direct not cast’.

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