Sunlight Nude

Sunlight Nude, 1920s
George Spencer Watson (1869-1934)
Oil on Canvas
BORGM 02313
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Gallery II 

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George Spencer Watson was a portrait painter who regularly visited Dorset.

In 1921, he bought Dunshay Manor on the Isle of Purbeck to get away from his busy London life. He explored the area on horseback and local landscapes and family members featured in his work. His early works were tradition, highly finished and detailed paintings.

However, his later works show the influence of modern developments, such as here, where he used blocks of paint to create an almost abstract background of colour and light. The model for this work is believed to be the artist’s wife, Hilda Mary Gardiner, a dancer and mime artist.

Her slim, athletic body is in direct contrast to the curvaceous, sensual nudes painted by Victorian artists. This reflects the changing fashions in the 1920s to the flappers with their slim hips, small bust and broad shoulders. The models cool direct look at the view is in complete contrast to the much more indirect gaze that would have been acceptable in Victorian nudes.

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