Catalogue entry

E.L.T. Mesens 1903-1971

T01260 L'Etat-Major (The Staff) 1962

Inscribed 'Mesens' b.l., 'L'ETAT-MAJOR' b.c. and '20/1962' br.; also 'L'ETAT-MAJOR | No. 20 | 1962 | E.L.T. Mesens' on the back
Collage and watercolour on cardboard, 8 1/2 x 10 7/8 (21.7 x 27.6)
Purchased from the Grosvenor Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1970
Prov: With Grosvenor Gallery, London (purchased from the artist)
Exh: The Belgian Contribution to Surrealism, RSA, Edinburgh, August-September 1971 (66)

Mesens has included cigarette cards of eleven leading English footballers of the nineteen-thirties (making up a complete team?), with narrow strips of bus tickets or other paper pasted across their eyes, possibly in order to give them anonymity. George Melly commented (letter of 22 August 1971): 'He had no interest in football as such so I presume the cigarette cards were selected for formal reasons. He did, however, keep everything and probably happened upon them one day among his other hoardings.'

The cards are from a set of Association Footballers published by W.D. & H.O. Wills in November 1939, the identity of the players being as follows:

Top row (left to right): R. Baxter, Middlesbrough; D. McCulloch, Derby County; G.W. Hall, Tottenham Hotspur; J. Dawson, Rangers.
Centre row (left to right): T. Graham, Nottingham Forest; L. Goulden, West Ham United; G. Vose, Manchester United.
Bottom row (left to right): A. McNab, West Bromwich Albion; J. Mercer, Everton; S. Smith, Leicester City; E.M. Glover, Plymouth Argyle.

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, p.509, reproduced p.509