F.E. McWilliam

Mother and Daughter

1951

Medium
Wood, plastic and metal
Dimensions
Object: 320 x 380 x 120 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
Reference
T03758

Display caption

McWilliam was a lifelong friend of Henry Moore, and this work has an affinity with some of Moore's monumental female figures, including Reclining Woman, also on show in this room. Influenced by Surrealism, McWilliam had begun making fragmented sculptures in the 1930s. He was interested in the viewer's tendency to 'complete' the missing parts of the sculpture in the mind's eye. His distorted representations of the human figure seemed to reflect the sense of anxiety and moral crisis that followed the Second World War.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T03758 Mother and Daughter 1951

Plastic wood and ‘Loy’ plastic metal 12 1/2 × 15 × 5 1/4 (320 × 380 × 120)
Not inscribed
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1953 (Circ. 2–1953)
Exh: McWilliam, Sculpture and Drawings, Robin Campbell, Paintings, Hanover Gallery, October–November 1952 (no catalogue)

McWilliam made in the early 1950s a number of such small sculptures out of plastic wood applied to a metal armature, and many of these have family subjects. It was an alternative technique at a time when he could not afford bronze, and he worked directly, and not from drawings (letter from the artist, 5 December 1984). His major work in this style on a large scale is the metal ‘Matriarch’, which was shown in 1953 at the exhibition 20th Century Form at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and which is similar in design to the Tate Gallery sculpture.

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