Robert Bevan

Ploughing in Brittany. Verso: Study of a Woman


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Robert Bevan 1865–1925
Conté crayon and watercolour on paper. Verso: Conté crayon on paper
Support: 256 × 352 mm
Purchased 1959

Catalogue entry

Study of a Woman
Conté crayon on paper
Inscribed by the artist ‘ANNA’ top right



Of all the Camden Town Group members, except Walter Sickert and Lucien Pissarro, Robert Bevan had the greatest first-hand experience of French painting and painters. He was of a slightly older generation than Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore, and was able to glean a more immediate knowledge of recent impressionist and post-impressionist developments on the continent. Bevan received a year’s training at the Westminster School of Art in Vincent Square SW1 under Frederick Brown (1851–1941), but in autumn 1889 he travelled to Paris to enroll at the Académie Julian. This was a popular choice among British and American art students who, in increasing numbers during the 1880s, came to study in Paris to finish their training. The jolly bohemian life to be found there was the setting for George du Maurier’s popular novel Trilby of 1894, but the choice to study in Paris was also the result of serious dissatisfaction with London teaching and academic values. In Britain there was a strong feeling among the younger generation of artists and art students that the restrictive influence of the Royal Academy was holding back the development of British art, and that the Academy’s teaching methods were outmoded and irrelevant.1 At Julian’s – named after the proprietor of the school who was a retired circus strong-man and sometime prize-fighter – students were allowed immediately to draw from the figure and the nude, something prohibited in the Royal Academy Schools until several years’ study had been accumulated. William Rothenstein, a student at Julian’s from 1888–9, gave a vivid account of life in the art school:
The Académie Julian was a congeries of studios crowded with students, the walls thick with palette scrapings, hot, airless and extremely noisy. The new students were greeted with cries, with personal comments calculated, had we understood them, to make us blush ... Julian himself knew nothing of the arts. He had persuaded a number of well-known painters and sculptors to act as visiting professors, and the Académie Julian became, after the Beaux-Arts, the largest and most renowned of the Paris schools ... At the Académie there were no rules, and, save for a massier in each studio who was expected to prevent flagrant disorder, there was no discipline ... Over the entrance to the studios were written Ingres’ words ‘Le dessin est la probité de l’art’ [Drawing is the integrity of art]; and ‘Cherchez le caractère dans la nature’ [Look for character in nature].2


Subject and composition

Robert Upstone
May 2009


See Robert Upstone, ‘Between Innovation and Tradition: Waterhouse and Modern French Painting’, in John William Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 2009, pp.37–49.
William Rothenstein, Men and Memories: Recollections of William Rothenstein 1872–1900, London 1931, pp.36, 39, 40.
Ibid., p.38.
Reproduced in Wendy Baron, Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, London and New Haven 2006, no.38.
See Fred Orton and Griselda Pollock, ‘Les Données Bretonnantes: La Prairie de représentation’, Art History, vol.3, no.3, 1980, pp.314–44.
Reproduced in Frances Stenlake, Robert Bevan: From Gauguin to Camden Town, London 2008, p.38.
Reproduced ibid., p.42.
Ibid., p.43.
Graham Dry, Robert Bevan 1865–1925: Catalogue Raisonné of the Lithographs and Other Prints, London 1968, no.7; reproduced in Stenlake 2008, p.38.
Reproduced in R.A. Bevan, Robert Bevan 1865–1925: A Memoir by his Son, London 1965, pl.6.
This and previous information supplied by Roy Brigden, Keeper, Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading.
See Orton and Pollock 1980, pp.314–44.
Reproduced in Christie’s South Kensington, 2 November 2000 (44).
Reproduced in Stenlake 2008, p.39.
Reproduced ibid., p.38.
Reproduced in Paul Gauguin: Monotypes, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia Museum of Art 1973 (16).
Robert Bevan, Sketchbook 1957.30.2, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; reproduced in Stenlake 2008, p.22.
R.A. Bevan 1965, p.10.
Ibid., p.9.

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