Catalogue entry

E.L.T. Mesens 1903-1971

T01265 Le Noctambule (The Night Prowler) 1955

Inscribed 'Mesens' b.l., 'LE NOCTAMBULE' b. centre and '5/1955' b.r.
Collage, gouache, ink and coloured pencils on cardboard, 22 1/2 x 12 3/4 (57.2 x 32.5)
Presented by the artist in memory of his wife Sybil 1971
Prov: Mrs Sybil Mesens, London; the artist
Exh: Free Painters' Group, Walker's Galleries, London, October 1957 (88); 3 Collagists, ICA, London, November 1958 (2); E.L.T. Mesens: Collages, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, April-May 1959 (30); Mesens, Grosvenor Gallery, London, February 1961 (2); E.L.T. Mesens, Salle 'La Réserve', Knokke Le Zoute, July-August 1963 (31); E.L.T. Mesens, Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, April-May 1965 (21)
Repr: Documento Sud, No.1, 1959, n.p.

The cardboard backing is inscribed 'E.L.T. Mesens | "Le Noctambule" | Collage, gouache, encres et crayons | No. 5. - date: 1955. Fait à Bruxelles. | Collection Mrs Sybil Mesens, London'. According to George Melly (letter of 22 August 1971), most of Mesens' collages were made in London, but 'Le Noctambule', which was made in Brussels, was always a very special case. 'He made it for his wife Sybil and, so E.L.T. told me, the night she died of leukaemia in 1966 (I think) it fell from the wall. This may have been fantasy or coincidence but it impressed E.L.T. very much for, although an atheist, he was very superstitious.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.507-8, reproduced p.507