William Roberts

L’Algérienne

1962

Artist
William Roberts 1895–1980
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 511 x 410 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Ernest Cooper 1980
Reference
T03076

Not on display

Display caption

This portrait of the artist's wife Sarah (born 1900) is one of a long series of portraits of Mrs Roberts executed between 1920 and 1980. Mrs Roberts was the sister of the artist Jacob Kramer. Roberts sometimes chose different guises for his wife such as a gipsy or, as in this work, an Algerian. Roberts thought that Sarah looked Algerian, although neither had ever visited Algeria. When Sarah asked her husband if he got bored with painting her year after year, Roberts replied that faces changed all the time and that, as a subject, there was always enough interest in the face alone.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T03076 L'ALGÉRIENNE 1962

Inscribed ‘William/Roberts’top right
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 × 16 1/8 (51 × 40.8)
Presented by Ernest Cooper 1980
Exh: RA, May–August 1962 (391); on loan to Southampton Art Gallery 1967–72; Paintings and Drawings by William Roberts, R A from the Ernest Cooper Collection, Worthing Art Gallery, April–June 1972 (20) as ‘Algerian Woman’
Repr: R A Illustrated, 1962, p.14; William Roberts A R A, Paintings and Drawings 1909–1964, n.d. [1964], p.27

A portrait of the artist's wife Sarah (née Kramer), born 1900. Mrs Roberts told the compiler that neither she nor Roberts had ever been to Algeria but that he thought she looked like an Algerian. He always chose the clothes and other attributes included in his portraits of her and of himself; the scarf in the Tate's painting belongs to her and is over fifty years old. Roberts painted his wife's portrait several times a decade until his death. In his later decades, his portraiture was restricted largely to self-portraits and portraits of his wife, and this was one of the reasons why he represented them both in so many different guises.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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