Les Routiers

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. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Les Routiers, 1931

Les Routiers, 1931
Oil on canvas, 101 cm x 76.3 cm

In August 1940, visitors to the then Belfast Municipal Art Gallery were given questionnaires inviting them to say which painting they liked best and which they liked least, with reasons, and asking for their views on three paintings in particular, one of which was WR's Les Routiers. The Belfast Telegraph of 20 September 1940 reported that 'The picture that came in for the greatest amount of criticism and which headed the poll as far as unpopularity is concerned was "Les Routiers," by William Roberts … It was described as "ghastly," "repugnant," "a nightmare," "foolish," "vulgar," "a vision of chocolate-box robots in Laocoon evolutions," "horrible," "frightful" and "childish." One woman thought that the only valuable thing about it was the frame, and another said she could see no merit in it as a work of art but would willingly take it home "to amuse the children."'
PROVENANCE: Contemporary Art Society > Ulster Museum, Belfast (1933)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: London Artists' Association (3) 1931 (65 gns), Venice 1932 (as Ciclisti), British Council 1939, Tate Gallery 1965, Royal Academy 1987, Stuttgart 1987, Munich 2001, Nottingham 2006

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