Modern British Women

23 November 2021 - 15 January 2022
  • IN twentieth-century Britain, more women began to emerge as the leading figures of their generation. Overcoming the barriers which once prevented women from achieving distinction in the visual arts, the artists shown here represent  not just the best female artists but the best of their era.

  • WINIFRED Nicholson is one of the great twentieth-century British artists, who just happened to be a woman. Her painting The Warwick Family was made shortly after she moved to a small Cumbrian cottage called Bankshead with her husband Ben Nicholson. The calm atmosphere of these massive, faux naif figures grows from their placid, vacant looks and the homely setting. A fire burns gaily in the stove and the tea things are set out. The paint itself is richly applied.

     

    In their lifetimes, the painter Vanessa Bell and the sculptor Barbara Hepworth achieved recognition as the equal of their male peers – Duncan Grant and Henry Moore respectively. Only in recent years, several decades after their deaths, have Bell and Hepworth begun to rise in critical estimation and eclipse their peers. Recent retrospectives of both artists have demonstrated their towering achievements as creative individuals, not merely the acolytes of their male contemporaries.

     

    In sharp-eyed atmospheric landscape paintings, the gender-fluid artist Gluck often imbued her subject with a wistful sense of poetry. A painting like Seascape, possibly executed during a visit to Ireland, draws from the veils of cloud a pregnant glimmer of light in the upper reaches of the sky. Some artists like Jean Cooke had to overcome more concrete restrictions. Her husband John Bratby was abusive and jealously limited her working hours. Only after their separation was Cooke able to order her life and produce a consistent output of extraordinary, peculiarly personal paintings.

     

    The ‘macho’ quality of American action painting gave abstraction an aura of chauvinism in the mid-twentieth century. Born in south London and trained at Royal College of Art, Bridget Riley began her career making work of lucid ‘optical’ clarity that offered a refreshing counterbalance to American painterliness. Following a visit to Egypt in 1979-80, she was inspired to create a series of work using the palette she found in the antiquities of Egypt. Works like KA IV exemplify this period of creative renewal.

     

    This Exhibition also includes work by the distinguished South African painter Irma Stern. Tutored in Germany under the Expressionist Ludwig Kirchner, her images of tribespeople in southern Africa – especially Congo and Zanzibar – are vigorous and humane depictions of an embattled people.

     

  • WORKS

  • Winifred Nicholson, The Warwick Family, 1925-26 c. Winifred Nicholson, The Warwick Family, 1925-26 c.
    • Prunella Clough, Wet Street, 1986
      Prunella Clough, Wet Street, 1986
    • Vanessa Bell, The Ouse Near Piddinghoe, 1936
      Vanessa Bell, The Ouse Near Piddinghoe, 1936
    • Dame Ethel Walker, Red Hair Girl, of Robin Hood's Bay, 1944-45, c.
      Dame Ethel Walker, Red Hair Girl, of Robin Hood's Bay, 1944-45, c.
    • Jean Cooke, Cave Painting I, 1965 c.
      Jean Cooke, Cave Painting I, 1965 c.
    • Tracey Emin, Small Thoughts, 2012
      Tracey Emin, Small Thoughts, 2012
    • Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein), Cottage with cat , 1967
      Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein), Cottage with cat , 1967
    • Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein), Seascape, 1969
      Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein), Seascape, 1969
  • Barbara Hepworth, Maquette: Theme and Variations, 1970 Barbara Hepworth, Maquette: Theme and Variations, 1970
    • Braida Stanley-Creek, Portrait of the Artist , 1932 c.
      Braida Stanley-Creek, Portrait of the Artist , 1932 c.
    • Lucie Rie, Bottle Vase, 1980, c.
      Lucie Rie, Bottle Vase, 1980, c.
    • Jean Cooke, Springtime Through the Window (46), 1980s, c.
      Jean Cooke, Springtime Through the Window (46), 1980s, c.
    • Bridget Riley, KA IV, 1980
      Bridget Riley, KA IV, 1980
    • Gillian Ayres, Choo Choo, 1996
      Gillian Ayres, Choo Choo, 1996
  • Paula Rego, Island of the Lights from Pinocchio, 1996 Paula Rego, Island of the Lights from Pinocchio, 1996
    • Irma Stern, Summer Morning in Madeira, 1950
      Irma Stern, Summer Morning in Madeira, 1950
    • Elisabeth Frink, Assassins I, 1963
      Elisabeth Frink, Assassins I, 1963