Angus Davidson (1898-1980) writer and publisher
Oil on beaver board1928-1929
About the work
Cedric Morris’s portrait of the translator and publisher, Angus Davidson is calm and restrained, suggesting the sitter’s character through use of colour and form. With short, tight dabs created using the end of a brush, Morris produces a rich painterly texture that animates the portrait. His studied depiction of Davidson moves away from the bravura of many early 20th century portraitists. He was known to often start a painting at one corner of a canvas, or concentrate on one particular detail, allowing the image to gradually develop. He frequently painted straight onto the canvas without making preparatory sketches.
The delicate lilac paint with which the artist captures the shadows under Davidson’s eyes is echoed in the tones of rose and mauve of his lips and ears. Although this painting was originally part of a larger group portrait, it nevertheless stands in its own right as a quietly powerful portrayal. With his down-turned head Davidson appears pensive and seems to rest his gaze on something invisible to us, deep in thought.
Davidson made his name during the 1920s when he worked as an assistant at the Hogarth Press with Leonard and Virginia Woolf. He translated the works of Alberto Moravia and Mario Praz, and wrote an innovative biography of Edward Lear that focused on his achievements as an artist.
He was associated with the Bloomsbury Group, the famous circle of artists, writers and intellectuals based in that area of central London. The artist and critic Roger Fry was a prominent member of this group, as were Clive and Vanessa Bell and the writers E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf. Angus Davidson was a close companion of the painter Duncan Grant, who was also a leading member of the Bloomsbury Group. Cedric Morris himself was also loosely connected to this artistic community.
About the artist
Cedric Morris was born in Swansea and began painting just before the First World War, largely self-taught. He briefly attended the Académie Delacluse in Paris in 1914. With his life-long companion, the painter Arthur Lett Haines (1894-1978), he established the East Anglian School of Drawing and Painting in Dedham, Suffolk, whose students included Lucian Freud. Morris exhibited with the Seven and Five Society (1926-1932), but later withdrawing as his preference for figuration diverged from their focus on abstraction. During the Depression, Morris worked with communities in his native south Wales to establish art societies. He inherited his father’s baronetcy in 1947. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Tate, London in 1984. In 2018, the exhibition, 'Cedric Morris: Artist Plantsman' that explored his flower paintings, was held at the Garden Museum, Lambeth.
- Angus Davidson (1898-1980) writer and publisher
- Oil on beaver board
- height: 37.00 cm, width: 31.00 cm
- Purchased from the artist, May 1979
- GAC number