William Roberts 1895-1980


 Private Colleciton, UK (purchased directly from the artist in 1962)


Royal Academy, 1966 no. 525                      


Andrew Gibbon Williams, William Roberts: An English Cubist (London: Lund Humphries, 2004)

As Andrew Gibbon Williams concluded in his monograph on Roberts published in 2004 . . . . , ‘Roberts’ work overflows with the joy of simple human interactions, brims with wit and humour, and throws into relief the oddities and quirkiness of twentieth-century life. It is the work of a man who loved life, even if he hated most people, and there is nothing quite like it in modern British art.’

This monumental painting was first exhibited to celebrate the artist’s election as a Royal Academician in 1966 and in the same year a major retrospective exhibition was devoted to Roberts work at the Tate Gallery.
This period could be considered the height of Roberts artistic maturity in the 50’s and early 60’s and gave him the resources and self-confidence to tackle such large canvases, so successfully.
The scale of this work is rare with very few canvases of comparable sizes, those recorded being in the collections of Tate Britain, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.

The subtle complexity of the composition inspired by the interrelationships of an Italian family, together with the religious iconography and clasical references, result in one of Roberts’ great masterpieces and places him internationally with the likes of South American artists Diego Rivera and Fernando Botero.