A stunning art deco period drawing in coloured pencils by the eccentric English muralist Henry Bird (1909-2000).
Henry Bird and his art were the subject of a TV documentary by Anglia Television in 1981, and had a posthumous exhibition devoted to him called "The Exceptional Henry Bird' in 2009 at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.
Born in a Northampton slum, Henry initially worked in factories to fund himself as a student at Northampton School of Art.
After this he went to the Royal College of Art where he won "the Painting and Portrait Prizes, the Continuation Scholarship and the Royal College's highest award, the Travelling Scholarship. He became head scene painter at the Old Vic and at Sadler's Wells, then was a lecturer in art history at the University College of Wales. After a period as resident designer at the Embassy Theatre in 1950, he taught at the Northampton School of Art.
He was described in his obituary in The Stage as "One of Britain's most distinguished and versatile artists".The Times noted that he "was one of comparatively few artists to be thoroughly comfortable with the grand scale of ambitious public painting projects.
He was member of the Art Workers' Guild and the Society of Painters in Tempera.According to The Independent, he was "shown widely, including (in) the Tate Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum".
In addition to his murals, he was particularly noted for his painting of nude women. He drew and painted female nudes "preferably big and beautiful", tempting them with cream cakes, sherry and gin. According to an inscription on the verso of the frame, the local postmistress was the model for this beautiful, graceful exotic dancer in harem pants.
I love the confident composition and play with space of this work.
Its provenance is excellent: it was acquired in 1987 by its previous owner, a British, Paris-based authority on the art deco period, from Simon Carter Gallery, Woodbridge. The drawing measures 43 x 33 cm at sight and is signed at the lower left. The overall framed size in an oak frame is 56 x 46 cm.
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