Gwen John

Nude Girl


Not on display

Gwen John 1876–1939
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 445 × 279 mm
frame: 539 × 371 × 55 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1917

Display caption

In this work, John’s limited use of colour and the minimal setting, draw attention to the naked body of the sitter. The rigid pose and slight distortion in the painting of the figure draw attention to an uncomfortable interaction between artist and model. Although unnamed in the title, the subject of the work is artist’s model Fenella Lovell whom John is known to have disliked. Lovell has a strong presence in the image and her direct gaze challenges contemporary expectations of the passive female nude.

Gallery label, January 2019

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Catalogue entry

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 17 1/2×11 (44·5×28).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1917.
Coll: An anonymous member of the C.A.S. Committee who presented it to the Society in 1911.
Exh: C.A.S., Loan Exhibition, Manchester, winter 1911 (225); C.A.S., First Public Exhibition in London, Goupil Gallery, April 1913 (66); C.A.S., Purchases and Gifts, 53 Grosvenor Street, June 1914 (9); C.A.S., Modern Paintings, Belfast, November 1914 (7); Matthiesen Gallery, September–October 1946 (40); Arts Council, Ethel Walker, Frances Hodgkins, Gwen John, Tate Gallery, May–June 1952 (103).
Repr: Burlington Magazine, LXXXI, 1942, p.239, pl.2a; The Listener, 10 October 1946, p.484.

Fenella Lovell, who used to pose for Gwen John in Paris, was probably the model for this and for another picture, showing her in the same pose but wearing a white dress; this was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1958 (repr. Painting and Sculpture Acquisitions, 1958, p.6).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I


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