T03658 Dressing 1944
Oil on canvas 30 × 39 (762 × 990)
Inscribed ‘Tibble’ b.l. and ‘Tibble’ on reverse
Presented anonymously in memory of Terence Rattigan 1983
Prov: Mrs Serena Hobbs, widow of the artist; Mrs Paula Barnett, daughter of the artist 1968; the donor 1969
Exh: Paintings and Drawings by Geoffrey Tibble 1909–1952, City Art Gallery, Manchester, July–August 1958 (22)
It appears that Tibble first began a painting with the canvas stretched the other way round. This painting was then abandoned, the image painted out with a uniform coat of grey paint and the canvas reversed on the stretcher for the painting of the present image. It is highly likely that the first painting on the canvas of T03658 which Tibble subsequently painted out was one of his earlier totally abstract paintings. The artist participated with seven artist colleagues, Edgar Hubert, Graham Bell, Thomas Carr, Rodrigo Moynihan, Ivon Hitchens, Victor Pasmore and Ceri Richards in an exhibition entitled ‘Objective Abstractions’, held at the Zwemmer Gallery, London, in March–April 1934, and from 1934 to 1937 Tibble painted and exhibited abstract paintings. However from 1938 until his death he abandoned abstraction and returned to painting representational images. William Townsend, the painter, and Mrs Serena Hobbs, the artist's widow, both independently reported to the donor that after Tibble's rejection of Objective Abstraction, he methodically reviewed recent art history until he found an artist he could believe in, and that artist was Degas. As Charles Sewter, a friend of the artist, wrote in the catalogue introduction which accompanied Tibble's 1958 posthumous retrospective exhibition at Manchester:
...it has proved impossible to trace a single surviving example of this [abstract] phase of Tibble's work. Nearly all of them were overpainted or the canvases turned and reused during the years 1942 to 1946, when good canvas was practically impossible to obtain.
T03658 most probably falls into this category.
The room depicted in ‘Dressing’ (and seen again in T03656 ‘The Mug’), with its large window and wrought-iron balcony railings beyond, is based on one in a large studio flat in Notting Hill, London, which belonged to Barbara Phillips, a Polish-born sculptor friend of the artist. She eventually re-married and moved to New York. Tibble himself lived at 13 Fitzroy Street, in a small studio flat, until 1939 when, with his wife and baby daughter, he moved back to his home area of Reading. He lived from 1942 to 1948 in Beaconsfield, where T03658 was painted.
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986