William Roberts

The Cinema


In Tate Britain

William Roberts 1895–1980
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 914 × 762 mm
frame: 1048 × 902 × 68 mm
Purchased 1965

Display caption

Roberts’s early work was abstract and he joined Wyndham Lewis’s vorticist group. After the First World War, he made a name as the painter of everyday modern scenes. While film had been invented in the late 19th century, it reached new heights of sophistication and popularity in the 1920s, the age of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the rise of Hollywood. Movies were silent until 1927 and were accompanied by live music. Many music halls, traditional places of popular entertainment, were adapted to show films.

Gallery label, September 2016

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Catalogue entry

William Roberts 1895-1980

T00813 The Cinema 1920

Inscr. ‘Roberts’, b.c.
Canvas, 36 x 30 (91.5 x 76).
Purchased from Miss Honor Frost, as executrix of the late Wilfrid Evill (Grant-in-Aid) 1965:
Coll: Sydney Schiff; Mrs. Violet SchifF; Lords Gallery; sold Sotheby’s, 13 July 1960 (187, repr.); bt. W. A. Evill.
Exh: Forty Years of Modern Art 1907–1947, I.C.A., February–March 1948 (79); Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Tate Gallery, July–August 1956 (188), and Arts Council tour, 1956 (76); The Wilfrid Evill Collection, Brighton Art Gallery, July–August 1965 (151); Tate Gallery, November–December 1965, and Arts Council tour, Newcastle and Manchester, January–February 1966 (10, repr.).
Repr: Sir Joseph Duveen, Bt., Thirty Years of British Art, 1930, p. 163; William Roberts, Paintings and Drawings 1909–1964, 1964, p. 10 (dated 1919, entitled The Silent Screen’).

Based on a small cinema in Warren Street which is now used as a television studio. A squared up drawing for it in pen, pencil and wash belongs to the Manchester City Art Galleries. This corresponds in almost every detail to the finished work.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1965–1966, London 1967.

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