Figure composition (Man and woman with two bulldogs)
Percy Wyndham Lewis
18 Nov 1882 - 07 Mar 1957
The eclectic sensibility of Percy Wyndham Lewis equipped him perfectly for his role as the gadfly of the English avant-garde. It was the avowed mission of this painter, writer, publisher and propagandist to radicalise society through art, to 'blow away dead ideas and worn out notions'. Lewis's explosive rhetoric was often only that, but he managed to found the most important British response to European modernism in a movement he named vorticism. Launched with his 1914 periodical 'Blast', vorticism synthesised the cubist and futurist techniques Lewis had been experimenting with previously. This image from 1912 is already precociously vorticist. The essential steeliness of the style is clear. Jagged lines, sharp angles and metallic colours - an overall effect of shattering - comprise its outward features. The transformation of the figures occasioned by this treatment is brutalising and mechanistic. Lewis was none too gentle in his appraisal of human worth. Here, the bulldogs demonstrate more character than their owners.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.
Figure composition (with bulldogs)
pen and ink, watercolour, gouache
31.3 x 21.7 cm sheet; 63.6 x 52.0 x 3.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
© Estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Wyndham Lewis, The Redfern Gallery, London, 05 May 1949–26 May 1949
Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Tate Britain, England, 06 Jul 1956–19 Aug 1956
Vorticism and its Allies, Hayward Gallery, London, 27 Mar 1974–02 Jun 1974
Wyndham Lewis: drawings and watercolours 1910-1920, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, England, 13 Apr 1983–14 May 1983
Five years on: a selection of acquisitions 1981-1986, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 26 Sep 1986–23 Nov 1986
Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1994–25 Sep 1994
Michelangelo to Matisse: Drawing the figure, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Nov 1999–27 Feb 2000
Modern Britain 1900-1960, NGV: International, Melbourne, 15 Nov 2007–24 Feb 2008
Sir Michael Sadler, pre 1943?, Oxford/England, d'Offay catalogue as Sadleir
The Redfern Gallery, 1949, London/England
Michael Tachmindji, circa 1956-circa 1974, United Kingdom, Tate catalogue  as lent by Michael Tachmindji. Arts Council catalogue  as lent by Michael Tachmindji.
Christie's London, 13 Jun 1980, London/England, cat.no. 105 [not sold]
Christie's London, 06 Nov 1981, London/England, cat.no. 71, Modern British and Irish Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture £9000/$16900
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, pre 23 Sep 1983, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Anthony d'Offay Gallery 1983. Purchased from the exhibition 'Wyndham Lewis Drawings and Watercolours 1910-1920', 13 April - 14 May 1983.
Referenced in 14 publications
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Wyndham Lewis: drawings and watercolours 1910-1920, London, 1983, (colour illus.). cat.no. 14
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Five years on: a selection of acquisitions 1981-1986, Sydney, 1986, (illus.). cat.no. 139
Richard Cork, Vorticism and its allies, 'Section 1: The prelude to Vorticism', pg. 35-47, London, 1974, 36. cat.no. 21
Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 146 (colour illus.).
Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Acquisitions: 1972-83', pg. 63-67, Sydney, Spring 1984, cover (colour illus.), 66.
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 56 (illus.).
Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, Modern Britain 1900-1960, Melbourne, 2007, 68 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Works on Paper', pg. 78-92, Sydney, 1999, 89 (colour illus.).
Terence Maloon and Peter Raissis (Editors), Michelangelo to Matisse: drawing the figure, Sydney, 1999, 109 (colour illus.). cat.no. 57
Walter Michel, Wyndham Lewis: paintings and drawings, London, 1971, (illus.). cat.no. 62, plate 21
Tate Britain, Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Wyndam Lewis: Drawings, London, 1956, 14. cat.no. 29
Donald Williams and Barbara Vance Wilson, From caves to canvas: an introduction to western art, 'Man, Machines and Movement: Futurism and its followers', pg.225-231, Sydney, 1992, 229 (colour illus.).
Donald Williams and Barbara Vance Wilson, From caves to canvas: an introduction to western art (Second edition), 'Man, Machines and Movement: Futurism, Rayonnism, Skyscrapers', pg.251-266, Sydney, 1998, 225 (colour illus.), 256.