Modigliani Reproductions with Paper Flowers

Ruskin Spear (1911 - 1990)

Oil on canvas

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© Courtesy of the artist's estate/Bridgeman Art Library

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  • About the work
    Paper carnations, colour postcards and a green bottle are arranged on the seat of a scuffed wooden chair. The two paintings reproduced; in the postcards are works by Amadeo Modigliani, the Italian avant-garde artist who shocked the art world with his bold depictions of the female nude exhibited in Paris in the early 1900s. On the left is Sleeping Nude with Arms Open Red Nude (1917, Gianni Mattioli Collection) and to the right Seated Nude on Divan (1917, private collection).
    Ruskin Spear’s painting is very much a visual homage to early modernist French painting. Yet Spear’s focus on the chair immediately calls to mind Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting of his own wooden chair (1888, National Gallery, London) and a companion painting from the same year of his friend Paul Gauguin’s chair (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
  • About the artist
    Ruskin Spear, known chiefly as a painter of portraits and landscapes, was born and lived throughout his life in Hammersmith, west London. His father was a coach painter and his ambitious mother expected him to live up to the names she chose for him: Augustus, John, Ruskin, after the celebrated British artists Augustus John (1878–1961) and John Ruskin (1819–1900). He won a scholarship to Hammersmith School of Art at the age of fifteen, and another scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where he studied from 1931 to 1934. Spear executed commissions for the War Artists Advisory Committee and took part in the ‘Recording Britain’ scheme, sponsored by the Pilgrim Trust, from 1940 to 1945. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1944 and Royal Academician in 1954. From 1948 to 1975 he was tutor at the Royal College of Art and was made President of the London Group in 1949. His first solo exhibition was held at the Leicester Galleries in 1951. He was awarded a CBE in 1979 and a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Royal Academy in 1980.
  • Explore
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Modigliani Reproductions with Paper Flowers
    Oil on canvas
    height: 101.00 cm, width: 76.00 cm
    Purchased from Leicester Galleries, February 1969
    Consigned by the artist to Leicester Galleries, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in January 1969
    GAC number