Following his Sigean abstractions, Whiteley's increasing preoccupation with the female torso led to his bathroom series which preserved the warm colours of his abstractions while constrasting them with the bathroom's acid blues and greens. The series signalled his breakthrough as a figure draughtsman and his desire to make eroticism more explicit:
'All the paintings I have made in the last four years have been concerned one way or another with sex and the desire to record sensual behaviour.'
- Brett Whiteley 1964
Focusing on the naked form of his wife Wendy in the bath, Whiteley's Woman in bath series, captured the tactility and tones of her flesh with a profound intimacy, rarely equalled in later paintings on this subject.
Collection highlights tour Woman in bath
Woman in the Bath 4
Woman in bath IV
Woman in the bath 4
oil, paper, graphite and tempera on plywood
183.1 x 218.7 cm board; 188.0 x 224.0 x 6.3 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.l., white oil "Whiteley". Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2000
© Wendy Whiteley
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Brett Whiteley (1964), Marlborough New London Gallery, London, 23 Apr 1964–23 May 1964
T.E. Wardle Invitation Art Prize (1965), Skinner Galleries, Perth, Perth, 02 Feb 1965–14 Feb 1965
The Mertz collection of contemporary Australian painting: Adelaide Festival of Arts 1966, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 12 Mar 1966–11 Apr 1966
The Australian painters 1964 - 1966: contemporary Australian painting from the Mertz collection:
- The Corcoran Gallery of Art, United States of America 10 Mar 1967–24 Apr 1967
- Museum of Fine Arts, St Petersberg, Florida, St Petersberg 24 Aug 1967–24 Sep 1967
- University Art Museum (University of Texas), Austin 26 Oct 1967–16 Nov 1967
- State University of New York, United States 07 Dec 1967–28 Dec 1967
- University of Alabama 01 Feb 1968–07 Mar 1968
- Greenville Power & Light Company 25 Apr 1968–16 May 1968
- DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln 12 Sep 1968–07 Nov 1968
- West Virginia University, Morgantown 12 Jan 1969–09 Feb 1969
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 14 Sep 1969–12 Oct 1969
- Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle 02 Nov 1969–30 Nov 1969
- Watkins Institute, Nashville 08 Feb 1970–08 Mar 1970
Australian paintings of the 1960s: selections from the Mertz collection, Archer M Huntington Art Gallery (University of Texas), Austin, 30 May 1984–21 Aug 1984
Australian paintings from the Mertz collection, Archer M Huntington Art Gallery (University of Texas), Austin, 01 Jun 1990–12 Aug 1990
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Brett Whiteley: Interiors (2001), The Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills, 14 Jul 2001–14 Oct 2001
Iconic Whiteley (2009-2010), The Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills, 12 Sep 2009–Aug 2010
The London years 1960-67 (2012), The Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills, 13 Jul 2012–13 Feb 2013
Referenced in 27 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2000, 'Year in review', pg. 8-20, Sydney, 2000, 8.
Anita Brookner, The Burlington Magazine, 'Current and forthcoming exhibitions', pg. 298, London, Jun 1964, 298. General review of Marlborough exhibition
Craig Bush, Look, 'Years of enrichment: The society reaches another milestone', pg. 12-15, Sydney, May 2009, 13 (colour illus.), 14.
Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 103 (colour illus.).
Christie's, Australia Pty. Ltd., Christie's Australia. The Harold E Mertz Collection of Australian Art: Melbourne 28 June 2000, Melbourne, 2000, 71 (colour illus.). lot no. 57; estimated price $350,000 - $550,000; titled 'Woman in Bath IV'; dated 1964
Kenneth Coutts-Smith., Arts review [vol. 16, no. 8], 'Brett Whiteley: Marlborough New London Gallery', London, 02 May 1964-16 May 1964, page unknown. General review of Marlborough exhibition
Émile Langui., Art since mid-century: The New Internationalism, 'Expressionism since 1945 and the Cobra Movement', Greenwich, 1971, 85 (illus.), 87, 88. vol.2 Figurative Art; plate no. 92; NOTE: this image depicts the early version of the painting before re-working
Ross K Luck, The Australian painters 1964-1966: contemporary Australian painting from the Mertz collection, Adelaide, 1967, 28, 66 (colour illus.). cat.no. 75; titled 'Woman in Bath', dated 1964
Marlborough New London Gallery (Curator), Brett Whiteley, London, Mar 1964, (illus.). not paginated; cat.no. 16; titled 'Woman in the Bath 4'; dated 1963
Sandra McGrath, Brett Whiteley, Kensington, 1979, 38, 40.
National Gallery of South Australia (Editor), Bulletin of the National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Apr 1966, front cover (illus.). Reproduction shows interior shot of the Mertz Collection exhibition with 'Woman in bath' on wall in the Intermediate Gallery.
Barry Pearce, Look, 'A quiet love affair: private passion over 33 years gives birth to a book', pg. 26-29, Sydney, Sep 2014, 27 (colour illus.). extract
Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Presenting our own artists: how the AGS put balance into the Australian collection', pg. 42-44, Sydney, May 2003, 44.
Bryan Robertson, Brett Whiteley Art & Life, 'The London years', pg. 8-14, London, 1995, 22-23, 84-85 (colour illus.), 227. plate no. 32; titled 'Woman in bath'; dated 1964; NOTE: this work was not in the exhibition; general reference to bathroom series
Joseph Rykwert, Domus (no. 416), 'Mostre a Londra', pg. 48, Milan, Jul 1964, 48. General review of Marlborough exhibition
Georgina Safe, The Australian, 'Buyers pay till it Mertz, and will keep works at home', pg. 6, Sydney, 30 Jun 2000, 6. Auction of Mertz Collection and purchase of 'Woman in bath IV' by AGNSW.
Charles S. Spencer, The Studio, 'Brett Whiteley: Classicism and actuality', pg. 108-111, London, Mar 1964. General review of Marlborough exhibition
Kathie Sutherland, Brett Whiteley: A sensual lilne 1957-67, 'Revelation: Rome to London 1960-1962', pg. 42-84, Victoria, 2010, 102, 110-111 (colour illus.), 270. cat.no. LL1
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'AGNSW current exhibitions: The London Years', pg. 53, Sydney, Aug 2012, 53 (colour illus.). Article featured in ‘AGNSW exhibitions’.
Alejandra Szczepaniak, Look, 'The year of giving generously', pg. 22-23, Melbourne, Dec 2000-Jan 2001, 23 (colour illus.).
The Brett Whiteley Studio, Brett Whiteley: Interiors, Sydney, 2001. List of works.
Nevile Wallis, The Spectator, 'Bride in the bath', pg. 663-664, London, 15 May 1964. General review of Marlborough exhibition
Judith White (Editor), Look, 'Indigo icon', pg. 25, Melbourne, Oct 2000, 8 (colour illus., detail), 24 (colour illus.), 25.
Miranda Wood., Sun-Herald, '$3332,000 paid to see woman in bath', Sydney, 30 Jul 2000, page unknown (colour illus.). Article about Gallery's purchase of this painting; review of 'Australian Icons' exhibition.
Editor Unknown (Editor), Life, 'Australian Art', Chicago, 03 Apr 1967, 28 (colour illus.). titled 'Woman in Bath'
Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily news, 'It's his wife!!", Perth, 07 Jan 1965, page unknown (illus.). General review of T.E. Wardle Invitation Art Prize 1965
Adelaide Festival of Arts 1966: special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'The Mertz collection of contemporary Australian art', Adelaide, 1966, not paginated. cat.no. 97; titled 'Woman in Bath VI'; not dated