EILEEN AGAR RA (1899-1991) Biography
SURREALISM (founded c.1924) Biography

War (United Kingdom, 1944)

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Gouache on paper
Signed, dated 1944 on the reverse


62.00cm high
76.00cm wide
(24.41 inches high)
(29.92 inches wide)
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Exhibition History

Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition, Peter Pears Gallery, 9 -24 June 2006, catalogue number 26

Description / Expertise

Eileen Forrester Agar was born in 1899 in Buenos Aires of British parents, and she came to England in 1906. She studied at Leon Underwood's school in Hammersmith, where she studied with Gertrude Hermes, the designer and architect Rodney Thomas, and Henry Moore. Underwood's insistence on drawing and understanding the human form would have proved useful, as afterwards she went to study under Henry Tonks at the Slade from 1925-26.

From 1928-30 she studied art in Paris, under the Czech Cubist painter Foltyn, and it was from him that she learnt the importance of abstract picture construction, which was later to become the basis of her mature pictorial style. She was a member of the London Group from 1933, she was associated with Surrealist manifestations in London in 1936, and took part in various international Surrealist exhibitions in England and abroad. As the only English woman of the group who had already been a professional artist she attracted considerable media attention.

In 1937, she visited Picasso at Mougins with Paul Eluard, Roland Penrose and Man Ray. The war disrupted her painting, and she did not start working again seriously until 1946. This was after a holiday to Tenerife when her former relish for painting was reawakened by the brilliant light and tropical colour of the island.

Although Agar was greatly influenced by the Surrealists, her achievement was to draw from both Surrealism and Abstraction and to create a unique style suited to her chosen subject matter. In 1965, Agar abandoned oil paints for acrylics, and her paintings took on a new vibrancy.