John Cecil Stephenson

Painting

1937

Medium
Tempera on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 711 x 914 mm
frame: 745 x 945 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1963
Reference
T00617

Display caption

The delineation of overlapping rectilinear forms gives this painting a strongly architectural quality. It appears to show the influence of the Hungarian artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Moholy-Nagy taught at the Bauhuas in Germany from 1923-8. He moved to London in 1935 and lived not far from Stephenson in Hampstead.

The fusion of art, architecture and design was a guiding principle for the international abstract movement, as it had been for the Bauhaus school. Both movements embraced the possibility that a work or art might convey an idealistic social dimension and function.

Gallery label, February 2010

Catalogue entry

T00617 PAINTING 1937

Inscr. on back of wooden support ‘John Cecil Stephenson 1937 36" 28" Egg Tempera Painting 1937’.
Tempera on canvas, 28×36 (71×91·5).
Purchased from the Marlborough New London Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1963.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by the Marlborough New London Gallery 1963.
Exh: (?) Constructive Art, London Gallery, July 1937 (38, 39 or 40); (?) London Gallery, January 1938 (no catalogue traced); Architectural Association, February 1938 (no catalogue traced); Arts Council, British Art and the Modern Movement 1930–40, Cardiff, October–November 1962 (114, repr.).
Repr: Apollo, LXXVI, 1962, p. 540.

There were three works with the same title, ‘Painting 1937’, exhibited at the Constructive Art exhibition mentioned above, and an inscription, probably in the artist's writing, on the back of the support refers to an exhibition at the London Gallery in January 1938. The exhibition at the Architectural Association seems to have been an informal one, as the Association's Journal contains references only to two exhibitions: Works by Students of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art (February), and Works by Students of the Royal College of Art (February–March).

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

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