Rodrigo Moynihan

Interior with a Nude and a Still Life

1937

Artist
Rodrigo Moynihan 1910–1990
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 914 x 1219 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by William W. Winkworth 1972
Reference
T01583

Not on display

Display caption

The lingering influence of Objective Abstraction can still be detected in loose painterly passages in this picture, particularly at the top right. Moynihan abandoned abstraction partly owing to its seeming isolation from contemporary life. He returned to representational painting as if for the first time, though influenced by great masters from Velasquez to Picasso. The still life in this picture was repainted several times. The vase is based on eighteenth century Spanish glass. Soon afterwards Moynihan, a visitor to the Euston Road School, began to paint in a more clearly defined manner. Still life and figures in interiors, along with portraits, would become some of his principal themes.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Rodrigo Moynihan 1910-1990

T01583 Interior with a Nude and Still Life 1937

Inscribed ‘Moynihan ‘37’ b.r.
Canvas, 36 x48 (91.5 x 122).
Presented by William W. Winkworth 1972.
Exh: London Group, Leicester Galleries, March 1937 (50) as ‘Interior’.

In a letter to the compiler (20 December 1973) the artist stated: ‘At the time of the Zwemmer Exhibition I was living at Ormonde Terrace and afterwards moved to St Mark’s Terrace, Regent’s Park. “Interior With A Nude and A Still Life” was painted at Regent’s Park in 1937.’

William Winkworth, former owner of the painting, describes in a letter to the Tate (22 August 1972): ‘I saw it while it was being painted in St. Marks Terrace, Regent’s Park, about 1936–37... It was the most serious and ambitious figurative work which Moynihan attempted after he gave up the style represented by the 1934 Objective Abstractions Exhibition at Zwemmer’s Gallery, but before he reverted to a more realistic style as represented by some of the paintings he did of the Regent’s Park area.’

In a letter to the compiler (undated but postmarked October 1973) Mr Winkworth added ‘the table was at 24 St. Mark’s Terrace, Regent’s Park. The picture only just fitted into the room he used as a studio and he used a bit of broken looking-glass to see it as a whole.

‘The glass containing flowers has as its source... a piece of old Spanish glass of mine (broken but usable)… made at La Granja near Madrid (18th Century).’

‘The nude was evolved in several preparatory sketches. The group of fruit on the table was the chief theme and it was worked on for some time and completely repainted more than once.’

Two preparatory charcoal and wash studies (approximately 9 x 12 in. and 12x 8½ in.) for the nude are in existence (coll. Stephen Winkworth). They differ from the final composition in that both show the nude seated, while one includes the artist himself at work in the room.

In an article published by Art News in May 1966, Moynihan describes his departure from abstract art as being partly brought about by the sense of an impasse in Objective Abstraction and partly by the difficulty in justifying an art form which seemed isolated from contemporary political and artistic events. With the sense of the world’s imminent collapse he searched for a more formal mode of expression and looked at Goya and Velasquez… ‘almost for the first time... I felt there was a gap to be filled and that I ought to begin all over again.’ (Art News, LXV, May 1966, p.66).

He agreed in conversation (30 January 1974) that ‘Interior With A Nude and A Still Life’ was definitely influenced by Picasso, especially in the treatment of the flowers and in the claw-like hand of the nude. He also pointed out the lingering influence of Objective Abstractionism in the brush-strokes, colouring and handling of paint in the top right hand area of the painting.

Published inThe Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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