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As well as a painter, Medley was a theatre designer, designing sets for TS Eliot and WH Auden - who was his lover - in the 1930s. Initially influenced by Bloomsbury and Surrealism, he later became concerned 'with the movement of human figures in space'. This is one of several paintings inspired by weekend parties of cyclists at Gravesend on the Thames. Its treatment of bodies in motion reflects Medley's long association with the theatre, while the word eclogue, an ancient form of pastoral poem, turns the modern scene into a timeless moment. Exhibited at the 1951 Festival of Britain, it adds an important early work to our collection of Medley's paintings.

August 2004