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

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 8 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.