Study of a Female Nude

FRANK DOBSON CBE (1888-1963) Biography
MODERN BRITISH (20th Century ) Biography

Study of a Female Nude (England, 1947)

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Sanguine chalk on paper
Signed Frank Dobson and dated '47


47.50cm high
30.50cm wide
(18.70 inches high)
(12.01 inches wide)
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Arthur Du Cross Esq., Conservative Department Hastings 1911, emigrated to Singapore in the 1950s

Description / Expertise

This powerful sanguine nude study was drawn during Frank Dobson's professorship at the Royal College of Art where he taught from 1946-53. Through his extensive work as a sculptor, Dobson's self assured drawings reveal a deep understanding and passion for the contours of the sculptural form and a masterful technical ability. There as an intensive return to figure drawing by Dobson during his time at the college and in the year of this study, his drawings were exhibited worldwide.(1)

John Bridgeman, one of his pupils at the Royal College, recalls how: occasionally looking into the life class and seeing the model sitting while some argument was going on, he [Frank Dobson] would take her away to make his own drawings. His method of drawing was interesting to watch, for the hand holding the conté would tremble like a butterfly and become strong and firm on reaching the paper. As a teacher his great ability was to instil the importance of finding one's self. His great concern was sculptural form, simplicity.(2)

Through carving, painting and drawing sensuous `Mediterranean' figures, Frank Dobson, developed the theme of the female nude throughout his life. During the inter-war years Dobson, like Jacob Epstein, was renowned as a keeper of tradition whose work bridged classical and modern sculpture. Frank Dobson very much admired the drawings of Augustus John, whom he had met in 1914. It was John who suggested that he should apply to the Chenil Gallery, where in that same year he held his first one-man show. After the First World War, Dobson was the only sculptor invited to exhibit in Wyndham Lewis's Group X despite his adversity to the angular forms characteristic of the group. He commented in his lecture The Quest: Vorticism… well I am all for a good stir-up but when my friend Wyndham Lewis suggested that I should make my work more angular and pointed, I began to get worried. Frank Dobson held his first one-man show as a sculptor at the Leicester Galleries the following year. Throughout his life he befriended many different groups of creative people, both in London and in Paris, including the Bloomsbury Group and the London Group, the latter of which he became President from 1924 to 1928. Christopher Wood described him as the best sculptor (with Epstein) in England.

1. In London by the British Council in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Australia (Wakefields Collection), Vienna and Canada.
2. Quoted in Robert Hopper's introduction to the exhibition catalogue, Frank Dobson 1886-1963, True and Pure sculpture, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, 1981