Mary Adshead

The Cruise


Not on display

Mary Adshead 1904–1995
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1420 × 1822 mm
frame: 1638 × 2047 × 72 mm
Purchased 1997


The Cruise depicts a group of people on board an ocean liner, who are being served tea by a uniformed steward. Noel Carrington, in the small catalogue which accompanied Adshead's 1986 show at Sally Hunter Fine Art, described her 'sense of design, wit and joie de vivre', qualities seen in this work. The two figures at the bottom right of the composition are cut off; one wears a handkerchief on his head. Adshead also includes a pair of bare knees in the bottom left corner. The volumetric figures reclining in various postures on deck, and the interest shown in rugs and fabrics, bring to mind contemporary paintings by Stanley Spencer, another former student of the Slade School.

Very little is known about the circumstances of the execution of this painting, and it is unclear whether the work relates to any decorative scheme that Adshead was involved in at the time. Adshead's son Sylvester Bone said in a letter to the Tate Gallery (30 June 1997) that he thought Gertrude and Muirhead Bone, Adshead's husband's parents, took her with them on a cruise to Constantinople. He also thought her own parents may have taken her on a Baltic cruise.

Further reading:
Mary Adshead, exhibition catalogue, Sally Hunter & Patrick Seale Fine Art, London 1986
Katy Deepwell (ed.), Ten Decades: Careers of Ten Women Artists born 1897-1906, exhibition catalogue, Norwich Gallery, Norwich 1992

Terry Riggs
December 1997

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