We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Figure composition (Man and woman with two bulldogs)



Percy Wyndham Lewis


18 Nov 1882 – 07 Mar 1957

  • Details

    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
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Percy Wyndham Lewis

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 9 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 14 publications

  • Provenance

    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 [1956] as lent by Michael Tachmindji. Arts Council catalogue [1974] 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.