The Toe Dancer

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.

Toe Dancer

The Toe Dancer, 1914
Ink and gouache, 72 cm x 54 cm

'The subject was derived from the dances performed by the wife of Stewart Gray, the hunger-marcher, at their home in Ormond[e] Terrace in the autumn of 1914. Stewart Gray is the bearded figure towards the top left and appears again on the right' – Tate Gallery 1965 catalogue. Alexander Stewart Gray (1862–1937), whom his London Times obituary described as 'the original "hunger march" leader in this country', was a Scottish solicitor who in 1908 led a march of unemployed men from the north of England and later fasted near Windsor Castle to draw attention to their plight.

Stewart Gray speaking at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in October 1908

In 1914 Gray rented 8 Ormonde Terrace, by Primrose Hill and Regent's Park, where he accommodated young painters and sculptors, including WR. In his Let There Be Sculpture (1940), Jacob Epstein described how 'there was a life class at which I sometimes drew, and sometimes the artists, among others Roberts and Bomberg, a mysterious Indian artist, and some models, would have parties' (ch. 11).
PROVENANCE: Captain Lionel Guy Baker > Victoria & Albert Museum (E.3786-1919)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: London Group 1915, Tate Gallery 1965, Hayward Gallery 1974, Newcastle 2004, Rotterdam 2011, Cambridge 2015

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