Reg Butler

Crouching Woman


Not on display

Reg Butler 1913–1981
Object and base: 220 × 108 × 99 mm
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Display caption

Butler trained as a blacksmith from 1941-45 and began to make sculpture from forged and welded iron in 1948. He had spent the previous year working as an assistant to Henry Moore, and before 1941 had trained and practised as an architect. 'Crouching Woman' is number 11A in the artist's record books and it was made in the first year that he used his blacksmith's training and worked in forged iron. 'Maquette for Woman' is number 20 and was made as a tryout for a much larger figure in iron. The tiles on which the sculptures stand were also made by Butler, who had worked as a designer for the London Brick Company in the 1930s.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Reg Butler 1913-1981

T03711 Crouching Woman 1948

Forged and welded iron 189 x 86 x 63 (7 1/2 x 3 3/8 x 2 1/2) on original tile base 11 x 107 x 100 (3/8 x 4 1/8 x 3 7/8)
Not inscribed
Purchased from Adrian Heath by the Victoria & Albert Museum 1954 (CIRC.98-1954); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1983
Prov: Hanover Gallery; bt by Adrian Heath 1949
Exh: Sculptures in Iron by Reg Butler, Hanover Gallery, July-Aug. 1949 (19); travelling exhibitions of the Department of Circulation, Victoria & Albert Museum.

This sculpture is number 11A in the artist's record books (collection of Mrs Butler) and it was made in the first year that he used the technique of forged iron. He then lived at Hatfield and had a forge in his studio. The tile which the sculpture stands on was also made by Butler, who had worked as a designer for the London Brick Company in the 1930s and was able to use their materials and kilns at their factory near Peterborough.

Sculpture 11B in the record books was also made in 1948, probably soon after this, and is precisely the same but twice the size. Roland Penrose lent this larger sculpture to the 1949 exhibition at the Hanover Gallery, and described in his autobiography (Roland Penrose, Scrap Book 1900-1981, 1981, p.281 and repr. p.166) his first sight of Butler's work, when David Sylvester brought to his house a collection of his small iron figures. It is possible that Penrose then asked for a sculpture twice the size of the ‘Crouching Woman', since no other such pairs are listed in the record books for these years.

The horizontal ‘eye' of the sculpture was missing when it was acquired by the Tate Gallery, and was replaced in 1987 by Mrs Butler, although the original photograph of the sculpture that would have shown it is not in the record books.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.501


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