Blair Hughes-Stanton (1902-1981)
Reclining Nude, c. 1936

Tempera on canvas
76.5 x 102cm

Signed lower right ‘Blair H S’.
Provenance: The estate of the artist.

A magnificent abstract nude rendered in a dynamic colour palette. This is probably Hughes-Stanton’s most important work, and belongs to the nation’s great, if brief, period of British Surrealism. The three major elements are distinct: the pastel tones of the window view and wall, the sensual curvatures of the pale nude, and the bold foreground featuring a fantastically accomplished still life of a fruit bowl (which could be a painting in and of itself) and the impressively phallic chair back. This is a brilliant example of erotic modernist abstraction.

Blair Hughes-Stanton, son of the artist Sir Herbert Hughes-Stanton, was a noted British artist of the interwar period. At the age of 13 he joined the Royal Navy training ship HMS Coway, but at 19 – advised by his father – he abandoned the sea for his paintbox. He studied art at Byam Shaw School (1919-1922) where he was influenced by Leon Underwood (who was a major influence throughout his studying), Royal Academy Schools (1922-23), and Leon Underwood’s School (1923-25). He was celebrated mostly for his skills as an engraver, and was a founding member of the English Wood Engraving Society when it was established in 1925. His first wife was the printmaker Gertrude Hermes with whom he illustrated John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress in 1928. In 1931 he became head of the Gregynog Press, later establishing the Gemini Press with his second wife Ida Graves. During the course of his career he worked in various media, though his art frequently focused on the female nude. He taught at Westminster School of Art (1934-39), Colchester School of Art (1945-47); St Martin’s School of Art (1947-48); and Central School of Arts and Crafts (1948-80). His teaching career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he served as a camofleur and then joined the Royal Engineers (ignoring his earlier life in the Navy). Serving in Greece, he was captured as a prisoner of war and was imprisoned in a camp. He returned to England after the war.

If you’d like to know more, please email or call us on 07929 749056.