Robert Medley

A Crucifixion


Not on display

Robert Medley 1905–1994
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1020 × 816 mm
Purchased 1994

Display caption

Around the age of eighty Medley began a series of paintings which focused on groups of naked or semi-naked male bodies, painted in a subdued palette of silvery, greeny colours. These late works were inspired by the twin forces of old age and war. This painting began as a composition in which semi-naked men were exercising in a gymnasium, and the figure at the top was inspired by a diver jumping on a springboard. Friends, seeing the work in progress, commented on how this figure reminded them of a crucified person and Medley then took up this theme. It is not the Crucifixion and it presents the subject in a general rather than a particular way.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Technique and condition

The oil painting is on a medium weight, cotton canvas stretched onto a wooden stretcher and primed on the stretcher with a thin layer of white acrylic gesso primer.

There is no preliminary drawing and the opaque colours have been applied in vigorous brushstrokes, broken scumbles and washes thinned with diluent. Although the image was developed over some time resulting in passages of several overlying layers, the paint seldom builds into impastos of any depth and the bright titanium white of the primer shows through in many areas, especially towards the edges.

The painting is not varnished and is in good condition only requiring minor treatment on acquisition. The attachment of the canvas to the stretcher with wire staples and framing were improved.

Roy Perry

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