Gwen John, ‘Chloë Boughton-Leigh’ 1904–8
Gwen John, Chloë Boughton-Leigh 1904–8 . Tate

Room 2 in In the Studio

Studio Practice

Still Life

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life  1946

Morandi repeatedly painted the same selection of familiar items, including bottles, bowls, pots and boxes. In his paintings, they lose their domestic purpose, to become sculptural objects that invite meditation and contemplation. Through repeated scrutiny of these simple items, Morandi created a sense of timelessness. However, his fondness for the earthy colours of his native Bologna helps to anchor such works in the artist's own life and surroundings.

Gallery label, September 2004

© DACS, 2020

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Mandora

Georges Braque, Mandora  1909–10

Braque’s interest in collecting musical instruments is reflected in this painting of a small lute called a mandora. Its fragmented style suggests a sense of rhythm and acoustic reverberation that matches the musical subject. Braque explained that he liked to include instruments in his cubist works, ‘in the first place because I was surrounded by them, and secondly because their plasticity, their volumes, related to my particular concept of still life’.

Gallery label, May 2012

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Glass on a Table

Georges Braque, Glass on a Table  1909–10

Traditional painting often presents a single viewpoint. Artists like Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso explored new ways of representing reality. They brought different views together in the same picture. The resulting paintings appear fragmented and abstracted. They imitate the fleeting nature of sight. In this painting of a glass and pears on a table, these different perspectives might appear to obscure the subject matter. But Braque believed that by breaking up familiar items and re-ordering them, he could get closer to a true likeness of the object.

Gallery label, July 2019

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Portrait of a Young Woman

Meredith Frampton, Portrait of a Young Woman  1935

This work relates to the tradition of full-length portraits of women that is associated in particular with the work of earlier artists, such as Van Dyck and Gainsborough. However, it is executed with a clarity and precision that give it an unmistakeably modern feeling. Frampton said that he made this painting as ‘a relaxation from commissions, and to celebrate an assembly of objects... beautiful in their own right’. The sitter was Margaret Austin-Jones, then aged twenty-three. Her dress was made up from a Vogue pattern by Frampton’s mother. The vase, made in mahogany, was designed by Frampton himself.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Tate

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Morning

Dod Procter, Morning  1926

This was voted Picture of the Year at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1927 and bought for the nation by the Daily Mail newspaper. From about 1922 Dod Procter had begun to paint a series of simple, monumental portraits of young women that she knew, utilising the fall of light across the figures to give a powerful sense of volume. The model was Cissie Barnes, the sixteen year old daughter of a fisherman from Newlyn, the Cornish village that was home to Dod Procter for most of her working life. The popularity of this painting led to its being displayed in New York, followed by a tour of Britain from 1927 to 1929.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Tate

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Ennui

Walter Richard Sickert, Ennui  c.1914

The title means ‘boredom’ in French. Sickert suggests the dislocated relationship between the figures by their lack of communication and their surroundings. Despite their close physical proximity, the man and woman face in opposite directions, staring off into space. The room furnishings reinforce the theme, in particular the bell jar containing stuffed birds. This is a marriage suffocating with boredom. Sickert’s works provide neither moral nor narrative certainty; which he leaves the viewer to supply.

Gallery label, May 2007

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove

Christian Schad, Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove  1929

Schad’s models unerringly return our gaze. Their convincing presence reflects the artist’s association with the New Objectivity, an artistic movement that combined social criticism with a near-photographic realism. The black woman and the pigeon-chested man were accustomed to scrutiny, earning their living as sideshow acts in Berlin funfairs. Unusually this unsettling portrayal of the objectification of the body, voyeurism and social alienation is focussed on the male as well as the female nude.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Christian Schad Stiftung Aschaffenburg/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2020

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Self-Portrait

Christian Schad, Self-Portrait  1927

Schad’s Self-Portrait is a study of thinly-veiled display. The artist’s transparent shirt reveals his chest. He is positioned in front of the woman, but only partially conceals her nakedness. A sheer curtain separates them from the city. Schad’s precise realism is loaded with symbolism. A narcissus, indicating vanity, leans towards the artist. The woman’s face is scarred with a sfregio, a wound inflicted as a punishment by Neapolitan criminals. It is a startling emblem of potential violence.

Gallery label, January 2019

© Christian Schad Stiftung Aschaffenburg/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2020

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Head of a Woman (Fernande)

Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman (Fernande)  1909

This sculpture is of Fernande Olivier, an artist and model. Olivier and Picasso were in a relationship for seven years after meeting in Paris in 1904. A number of works Picasso made during this time were inspired by Olivier. The flat, squared surface of Head of a Woman reflects the cubist style he explored from 1907–09. Picasso made two plaster casts of this sculpture, from which at least sixteen bronze examples were cast.

Gallery label, November 2019

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2020, courtesy Private Collection

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The Bowl of Milk

Pierre Bonnard, The Bowl of Milk  c.1919

Bonnard painted this work in the south of France. He moved there during the First World War with his partner Marthe de Méligny, pictured here. This view is of the room they rented. Light reflected from the sea pours through the balcony window. The strong light leaves many details in shadow, including de Méligny’s face and the cat awaiting its milk. Preparatory drawings show Bonnard testing a variety of details and poses before he brought them together in the final painting.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Pablo Picasso, Seated Nude  1909–10

In this painting a figure is shown sitting in a high-backed arm chair. It is an early example of cubism. Picasso brings different views of his subject together in the same picture. As a result, his seated figure appears fragmented and abstracted. Despite this revolutionary approach to perspective Picasso’s use of light and the pose of his figure reveal a commitment to the traditions of portraiture.

Gallery label, September 2019

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Dish of Pears

Pablo Picasso, Dish of Pears  1936

The dishes of pears in this still life are painted in a flat, graphic style. The white area behind the fruit was added as the final layer of the painting. It creates a sense of space behind the pears instead of a flat background of colour. Thick black lines separate the different elements in the painting. The result is an almost abstract pattern of colours and shapes. Picasso painted still life subjects throughout his career and in a range of different styles.

Gallery label, September 2019

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2020

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Portraits (Marie Laurencin, Cecilia de Madrazo and the Dog Coco)

Marie Laurencin, Portraits (Marie Laurencin, Cecilia de Madrazo and the Dog Coco)  1915

Laurencin painted this portrait using simplified forms and a limited palette of blue, pink and grey. The artist was part of a group of cubist painters working in Paris around 1911. She chose, however, not to follow the abstracted treatment of the body that many of her cubist friends adopted. This picture was painted in Madrid in 1915. Laurencin moved to Spain with her husband, German painter Otto von Wätjen, following the outbreak of the First World War. It depicts Cecilia, the daughter of the Spanish painter Federico de Madrazo, and the artist herself, shown on the left.

Gallery label, September 2019

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Home of the Welder

David Smith, Home of the Welder  1945

Home of the Welder was made shortly after the Second World War, and reflects Smith’s personal circumstances. He had just been released from his wartime job as a welder, which he believed had restricted his creative work. Like a coded autobiography, various elements in this sculpture relate to his dreams and frustrations at the time. The millstone, for example, was identified by Smith as representing his job, while images of women and children may reflect tensions in his childless first marriage.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Estate of David Smith /VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2020

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Diego Rivera, Mrs Helen Wills Moody  1930

The subject of this portrait was a famous North American tennis player and artist. Rivera met her while working on a fresco for the walls of the San Francisco Stock Exchange. He included her portrait as a gigantic personification of California. She recalled: ‘He sketched in sanguine chalk before my astonished eyes, on a colossal scale, while standing on a soapbox...The likeness was unmistakable, although somewhat stylised as the fresco demanded.’

Gallery label, January 2019

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Seated Woman with Small Dog

Meraud Guevara, Seated Woman with Small Dog  c.1939

This is one of a number of precise and realistic paintings of women by Meraud Guevara that share a disquieting atmosphere. The sitter wholly dominates the steep angled space, which could not contain her if she stood. A sense of mystery is suggested by the imaginary view (placing the room high above the landscape), the open doorway behind, and the inexplicable, but deliberate, flash of orange beside the door.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Estate of Meraud Guevara

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The Little Peasant

Amedeo Modigliani, The Little Peasant  c.1918

This is one of a small group of paintings of youths by Modigliani. The artist inscribed the work's title on the bottom right of the canvas, identifying the sitter as a 'peasant boy'. However, the same model appears in a painting in the collection of the Louvre, Paris, titled 'The Young Apprentice'. Modigliani had long been deeply influenced by the painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), and it seems likely that this painting was a homage to the latter's series of country workers posed centrally in the canvas and painted in predominantly blue tones. (See, for example, Cézanne's 'The Gardener Vallier', also in this room.)

Gallery label, September 2004

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Interior at Gordon Square

Duncan Grant, Interior at Gordon Square  c.1915

The Bloomsbury artists often focused their attention on their immediate surroundings, painting their friends engaged in such activities as painting, reading or writing, as well as the objects and furnishings (often home-made) in their rooms. This painting shows the view between the front and back rooms on the first floor of 46 Gordon Square in London, where Grant lived for a time with Vanessa Bell; the front room was her studio. The composition shows that Grant was familiar with recent developments in France such as cubism.

Gallery label, October 2016

© The estate of Duncan Grant

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Guitar and Jug

Georges Braque, Guitar and Jug  1927

Braque used traditional artists’ props such as guitars, jugs and glasses to experiment with composition. The familiar objects in Guitar and Jug are presented in sombre colouring but with fluid lines, their softness set against a rigorous structure. The objects may also be interpreted as having symbolic associations, so that the guitar may allude to artistic harmony and the apples, branch and glass may celebrate the abundance of nature.

Gallery label, October 2016

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Table Piece CCLXVI

Sir Anthony Caro, Table Piece CCLXVI  1975

Table Piece CCLXVI is constructed on a human scale. At just over two metres wide it is comparable to the width of a person’s outstretched arms. Caro has observed that: ‘all sculpture is to do with the physical – all sculpture takes its bearings from the fact that we live inside our bodies and that our size and stretch and strength is what it is’.

Gallery label, October 2016

Courtesy of Barford Sculptures Ltd

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Elevation

Gaston Lachaise, Elevation  1912–27, cast 2012

Elevation is a life-size bronze sculpture of a female nude which derives its title from the figure’s tip-toed pose. Its apparent weightlessness defies the ample proportions of the figure and the weight of the sculptural material. Having emigrated from France to the United States in 1906, Gaston Lachaise became an important figure in the cultural trans-Atlantic exchanges of the early twentieth century. Elevation is one of his most recognised works. It garnered notoriety when shown in the artist’s first solo exhibition (held at the Stephan Bourgeois Galleries in New York in 1918) in the dual contexts of rights for women and wartime memorialisation. Lachaise himself saw the female figure as an archetypal embodiment of natural forces. In ‘A Comment on My Sculpture’ made at the time that the bronze of Elevation was first exhibited in 1928, he wrote of the archetypal ‘Woman’: ‘Soon she came to forceful repose, serene, massive as earth, soul turned towards heaven … Then “Woman” rose again, upstanding, noble, bountiful, poised on her toes, with closed self-absorbed eyes, nearly detached from earth.’ (Gaston Lachaise, ‘A Comment on My Sculpture’, Creative Art, August 1928, reprinted in Champion 2003, 2007, pp.133–4.)

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Art in this room

Still Life
Giorgio Morandi Still Life 1946
Mandora
Georges Braque Mandora 1909–10
Glass on a Table
Georges Braque Glass on a Table 1909–10
Portrait of a Young Woman
Meredith Frampton Portrait of a Young Woman 1935
Morning
Dod Procter Morning 1926
Ennui
Walter Richard Sickert Ennui c.1914

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