Lawrence Atkinson

The Lake


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Lawrence Atkinson 1873–1931
Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 254 × 368 mm
Purchased 1965

Display caption

Atkinson was considerably older than most of his fellow Vorticists. He trained as a musician in Paris and Berlin before taking up painting. Much of his early work has been lost, however, he appears to have painted landscapes in a fauvist style. According to the painter Kate Lechmere, Atkinson's work underwent a dramatic transformation under the influence of Wyndham Lewis whose work he saw at the Rebel Art Centre. In 1915 he published a collection of poems called 'Aura'. In these poems he extolled his passion for the 'undiscovered Countries' of the modern metropolis whose 'flame-bound windows/And their lightning shadows...tune the stolid rhythms of the walls/To the brilliant harmonies/Of the greater moment-'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Lawrence Atkinson 1873–1931

T00717 The Lake c. 1915–20

Not inscribed.
Pen and watercolour wash, 10 x 14½ (25.5 x 37).
Purchased from the Leicester Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1965.
Coll: Given by the artist to Horace Shipp; sold by his widow to the Leicester Galleries, 1964.
Exh: (?) International Exhibition, Geneva, 1921; Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Tate Gallery, July–August 1956 (157) and Arts Council tour, September–December 1956 (56); New Year Exhibition, Leicester Galleries, January 1965 (1).
Lit: Horace Shipp, The New Art, 1922, pp. 76–7.

Horace Shipp, in his study of the work of Lawrence Atkinson, The New Art, 1922, wrote that he first met the artist early in 1920 but had become interested in his work earlier, notably in Atkinson’s design for the cover of Wheels in 1918. He divides the artist’s work into three periods. ‘His first things show an intense sense of pattern and decoration. Many of them are landscape studies.’ In the second phase ‘he found that the structural values of an object interested him more than the purely decorative ones’. In the third period ‘we find him entirely free from the bonds of representation and advanced beyond the theories of Cubism, Vorticism and Futurism. He concerned himself with the dynamics of power, growth and progress in an endeavour to bridge the visible with the invisible forces behind it’ (pp. 76, 77, 98). A label on the back states that T00717 was exhibited at an International Exhibition in Geneva, 1921, but no record of this exhibition has been found.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1964–1965, London 1966.

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