Peter Coker

Sheep’s Head on Newspaper


Not on display

Peter Coker 1926–2004
Crayon and ink on paper
Support: 416 × 552 mm
Presented by the artist 1981

Display caption

In 1955 Coker began a series of paintings inspired by a butcher's shop near his home in the East End of London. Table and Chair developed from a number of related sketches, two of which are shown in this display. In the painting, Coker included a sheep's head on a piece of newspaper alongside a portrait of his son. The lively and enquiring face of the child contrasts with the impassive face of the dead animal. This stark depiction of a domestic interior is typical of British realist painting of the 1950s.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry



Inscribed ‘Peter Coker 55’ bottom right
Black crayon and ink on paper, 16 5/8 × 21 1/2 (41.3 × 55.1)
Presented by the artist 1981
Exh: Peter Coker: Paintings and Drawings of the Butcher's Shop, University of Liverpool, January–February 1979, and tour to Carlisle, Doncaster and Southport, ending up at the RA, July–August 1979 (25)

T03302 and the studies for it T03307-T03311 are catalogued here together.

'Table and Chair’ originally contained neither the figure of the boy (the artist's son) nor the sheep's head, but a dead hare on the table, based on the drawings T03307 and T03308. A contemporary photograph of Coker sitting in front of the painting in its original state is reproduced in the catalogue of his travelling retrospective of 1972–3. the sheep's head was later substituted for the hare, suggesting a contrast between the live and enquiring face of the child and the impassive face of the dead animal.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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