- Other Title
- Figure composition (with bulldogs)
- Media category
- Materials used
- 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.
- Purchased 1983
- 20th-century galleries (ground floor)
- Accession number
- © Estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis
- Artist information
Percy Wyndham Lewis
Works in the collection
Percy Wyndham Lewis made this watercolour two years before he formed the avant-garde vorticist movement with American poet Ezra Pound. ‘Vorticism’, wrote Pound, ‘is art before it has spread itself into a state of flaccidity … The vortex is the point of maximum energy. It represents, in mechanics, the greatest efficiency’.
The hallmarks of a radical new style are present in Lewis’s line-and-wash drawings of 1912. Using hard-edged precision, anti-naturalistic colours and compact geometrical arrangements of arcs, wedges and sharp lines, Lewis invented a race of dehumanised machine people. Embedded in abstract surrounds, these robotic figures convey a great kinetic energy. Zigzagging and jagged lines thrust outwards to the edges of the paper then converge back to the centre, as if subjected to the whirling forces of a vortex.
Shown in 9 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
20th-Century galleries Rehang (Ground Level), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Aug 2022–2023
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, 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
Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Acquisitions: 1972-83', pg. 63-67, Sydney, Spring 1984, cover (colour illus.), 66.
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 146 (colour illus.).
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 (Second edition), 'Man, Machines and Movement: Futurism, Rayonnism, Skyscrapers', pg.251-266, Sydney, 1998, 225 (colour illus.), 256.
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.).
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.