Catalogue entry

N06078 GIRL 1931

Not inscribed.
Ancaster stone, 29×14 1/2×10 3/8 (73·5×37×27·5), on base, 4 1/8×12 5/8×10 3/8 (10·5×32×26).
Purchased from the Whitechapel Art Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1952.
Coll: C. Branson, purchased from the artist through the 7 & 5 Society and presented to the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1932.
Exh: 7 & 5 Society, Leicester Galleries, February 1932 (62); Venice Biennale and Milan, 1948 (13, repr.); Wakefield and Manchester, April–July 1949 (22); British Council, Brussels (repr.), Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Berne, 1949–50 (16); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, 1951 (66).
Lit: Sylvester in Burlington Magazine, XC, 1948, p.159; Sylvester, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, 1951, p.11; Read and Sylvester, I, 1957, p.8, No.109, repr. p.64; Grohmann, 1960, p.29, repr. pls.8–9.
Repr: Read, 1944, pl.29a; Argan, 1948, pl.4.

One of a number of sculptures called ‘Girl’, carved 1930–2, which are less severe and ‘primitive’ in inspiration than the carvings of the 1920s; this example dates from 1931. As in the other three carvings of 1931–2 in the Tate Gallery, T00240, T00241 and T00385, the artist's approach was to a considerable extent governed by the nature of his material, Ancaster stone, beechwood, Armenian marble and African Wonderstone respectively. Looking back in 1951 the artist recollected that, ‘When I began to make sculptures thirty years ago, it was very necessary to fight for the doctrine of truth to material (the need for direct carving, for respecting the particular character of each material, and so on). So at that time many of us tended to make a fetish of it. I still think it is important, but it should not be a criterion of the value of a work. ...The sculptor ought to be the master of his material. Only, not a cruel master.’ (‘Notes’ in exh. cat., Tate Gallery, 1951, p.4, reprinted in Read, II, 1955, p.xiv; cf. his statement of 1934 in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One, 1934, p.29, reprinted in Read and Sylvester, op. cit., p.xxx.)

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