Ceri Richards

Two Females

1937–8

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Ceri Richards 1903–1971
Medium
Painted wood, strip brass and brass ornaments
Dimensions
Object: 1600 x 1168 x 89 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1959
Reference
T00307

Display caption

The International Surrealist Exhibition was held at the Burlington Galleries in the summer of 1936, and for a brief moment, in the words of André Breton, London was ‘the centre of the Surrealist universe’. Richards exhibition gave him an opportunity to study important works by Ernst, Picasso and Miro, among others. Subsequently a pronounced erotic sensibility became apparent in Richards’s own loosely surreal work. Two representations of the female form are contrasted in this relief. On the right, virginal, though budding and seductive, and on the left, fulsome and latently sexual.

Gallery label, September 2016

Catalogue entry

T00307 TWO FEMALES 1937–8

Inscr. ‘Ceri Richards 37’ b.r. and ‘Ceri Richards 26 St Peter's Square, Hammersmith W. 6 “Two Females” 1937–38’ on the back.

Painted wooden relief construction with strip brass and two brass ornaments nailed on, 63×46×3 3/4 (160×117×9).

Purchased from the artist (Knapping Fund) 1959.

Exh: London Group, November–December 1938 (166), as ‘Two Females’; Arts Council Scottish Committee, Ten English Painters 1925–55, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, January–February 1956 (48).

Lit: David Thompson, Ceri Richards, 1963, n.p., repr.

Repr: London Bulletin, 8–9, 1939, n.p.; Sir John Rothenstein, British Art since 1900, 1962, pl.140.

The artist has explained that this is an interpretation of two contrasting concepts of the female form; the one virginal, the other productive or proliferating which represents the ‘vegetable’ or sexual aspect. This work is the last but one of a series of twelve surviving reliefs the earliest of which were begun in 1934. The discrepancy between the dates is explained by the artist having abandoned T00307 in 1937 for a short while, only completing it the following year. Hans Arp was brought to visit the artist in 1937 and admired these reliefs (letter of 31 December 1959).

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

Explore