Frederick Edward McWilliam (1909 - 1992)

Sycamore wood sculpture


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  • About the work
  • About the artist
    Frederick E. McWilliam was born in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. He studied at Belfast College of Art and the Slade School of Art in London. From 1931 he worked in Paris, where he became acquainted with the Surrealist movement and in 1938 he joined the British Surrealist Group. During the 1930s his work focused increasingly on sculpture: some of his earliest carvings in wood show the influence of non-Western cultural objects, such as traditional African sculpture. An additional contemporaneous influence was the semi-abstract modernist sculpture of Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957), whose work he would have seen in Paris. McWilliam’s first solo exhibition was in London in 1939. During the Second World War he served with the Royal Air Force, Belfast, spending much time in India. On his return he took up teaching posts at the Chelsea School of Art and the Slade. In 1953 he won an award in the international competition, ‘Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner’, for which an exhibition was held in London. In 1964 McWilliam received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Queen’s University in Belfast. From the early 1970s onwards much of his work reflected the horror and atrocity of terrorist acts in the city. In 1989 a retrospective exhibition of McWilliam’s work was held at the Tate, London (now Tate Britain). A book, ‘The Sculpture of F. E. McWilliam’ by Denise Ferran and Valerie Holman was published in 2012.
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    Materials & Techniques
    sycamore wood, wood sculpture
  • Details
    Sycamore wood sculpture
    height: 117.00 cm, width: 38.00 cm, depth: 16.00 cm
    Purchased from Christie's, 8 November 1985
    signed beneath base
    Sold through Christie's, London, on 8 November 1985 (Lot 191); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
    GAC number