Spray, 1940
Harold Williamson (1898-1972)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 02377

Morning Room 

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Spray by Harold Williamson is one of our most popular paintings. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1940 and was purchased by the museum in the same year.

At the time, Williamson was Painting Master at Bournemouth College of Art. His students admired his skill at life drawing and knowledge of anatomy – as demonstrated in this painting of the modelling of the swimmer’s back with its dramatic angle and the extremely steep view to the rock pool below. Williamson was known to have used his daughter and her friends as models for his work but the model for Spray is unknown.

Williamson was a painter, draughtsman, etcher and teacher, born in Manchester. He studied at the Manchester School of Art, 1913-1916, returning after World War I and continuing until 1922. For a time, he was a designer with the fabric and wallpaper firm Arthur Sanderson and Sons. He taught at Bournemouth from 1926-1947 and then became Head of the Department of Fine Art at Manchester School of Art until 1962. He was also well known for his posters for London Transport.


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