AN ENGLISH CUBIST
The Flower Arrangement
Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below.
The Flower Arrangement, 1944
Pencil and watercolour on paper, 53 cm x 35 cm
'William Roberts' picture is all clarity and legibility. It could be said to be presenting classicism's insistence on delineation and proportion. The figures are shown to be tidy variations on basic geometrical forms, and they are composed to fit neatly into the rectangular shape of the whole as well as into the pattern of other forms they meet within it. The whole thing is verticals, horizontals and diagonals; the visual traffic flows smoothly. The miracle is that the result is so friendly and intimate. Of course we respond gladly to order as long as it does not turn into authoritarian orders, and there is satisfaction as well as visual strength in a clear structure, but Roberts makes it surprisingly easy for us to identify with his domestic pair, even with their typical roles. In part this comes from the comfortable proportions as well as the ordinary faces he gives to his figures, in part from the gentle hues of his watercolours' Norbert Lynton in the catalogue for Manchester 1985, p. 10.
PROVENANCE: Ernest Cooper > Sotheby's 22 Nov. 1972 (£480) > J. R. Capstick-Dale > James Kirkman 1976 > Arts Council Collection (Kitaj purchase)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Worthing 1972, Hayward Gallery 1976, Manchester 1985, Newcastle 2004, Geffrye Museum 2007, Rotterdam 2011, Lincoln 2016
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