Robert Medley

The Antique Room at the Slade: Niobe and Hermes

1952

Artist
Robert Medley 1905–1994
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1524 x 1264 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1962
Reference
T00498

Not on display

Display caption

This painting celebrates the room of plaster casts taken from antique sculptures which was used as a vital teaching tool in the Slade School curriculum. This Antique Room no longer exists. In 1952 Medley was a visiting teacher in the Department of Theatrical Design, while William Coldstream was Slade Professor of Fine Art. Easels and partly finished work by the students fill the foreground while the background is dominated by a cast of Praxiteles's 4th century BC Hermes with the infant Dionysus. Medley attempted in this painting to experiment with interior space and the tension wrought by combining perceived reality with an imaginatively conceived composition.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T00498 THE ANTIQUE ROOM AT THE SLADE: NIOBE AND HERMES 1952

Inscr. ‘Ro. Medley’ t.r.
Canvas, 60×49 3/4 (152×126·5).
Purchased from the artist (Knapping Fund) 1962.

Exh: Leicester Galleries, June–July 1955 (18), as ‘The Antique Room: “Niobe and Hermes”’; London Group, November–December 1955 (76), as ‘The Antique Room “Niobe and Hermes”, 1955’; Painting at Camberwell, South London Art Gallery, May–June 1960 (not numbered), as ‘The Antique Room, 1956’; Whitechapel Art Gallery, November–December 1963 (37).

A view in the Antique Room of the Slade School, painted in 1952 (letter from the artist, 20 April 1962). Another picture of ‘The Antique Room’ was in the C.A.S. Exhibition, Figures in their Setting, 1953 (40), and is now at Huddersfield, while three further paintings were included in the 1955 Leicester Galleries Exhibition, ‘The Antique Room: “Turk's Head” and “Ilissus”’ (10), ‘The Antique Room: “Niobe” and the “Slave”’ (15) and ‘Michelangelo's “Slave”’ (4). Two ink drawings of the Antique Room at the Slade, also of 1952, were exhibited at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, in 1953 (58 and 59, the second repr. on cover).

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

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