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Western art

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The interval before Round Ten



William Roberts


05 Jun 1895 - 20 Jan 1980


According to the conventional lineage of modernist art history, vorticism was the English progeny of cubism and futurism. Among its youngest adherents was the author of this robotic report of a boxing match. By the time he painted it, however, William Roberts had already passed through and abandoned the extremes of vorticist practice in favour of a less radical academic cubism. Even so, 'The interval before Round Ten' is a painting imbued with the edgy virility so loved by the vorticists, as indeed by futurists such as Marinetti. Aggression in human behaviour is given visual form in the agitated activity and angular arrangements of Roberts design. And design is the right word for this deliberately anti-naturalist composition. The ferocity Roberts brought to bear on his subjects is akin to caricature. Little fellow-feeling softens his vision of the all-male madness of pugilism, though the painter delighted in it all the same. Fernand Leger's interests in proletarian themes, and something of his tubular style, infiltrate Roberts's work.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


92.1 x 122.5 cm stretcher; 114.0 x 144.2 x 6.8 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the Contemporary Art Society, London 1965


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Roberts

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Sir Osbert Sitwell, London/England, Commissioned by Sitwell

Dr H. Widdup, 07 Feb 1947-1963, Purchased by Dr Widdup from Christie's London, 7 February 1947, lot no. 62, bequeathed to Contemporary Art Society, London 1963

Contemporary Art Society, London, 1963-Jul 1965, London/England, Gift of the Contemporary Art Society, London 1965. Received 1967.

Referenced in 13 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 43 (colour illus.).

Arts Council of Great Britain, William Roberts ARA: Retrospective Exhibition, London, 1965. 6

Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'European 20th Century Art', pg. 91-95, Sydney, 1984, 91.

René Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 55.

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 160 (colour illus.).

Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Collection', p.63-75, Sydney, Jul 1972, 75 (illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 169 (illus.).

Andrew Gibbon Williams, William Roberts: An English Cubist, 'Back to Bohemia', pg.48-72, Hampshire, 2004, 52, 54 (colour illus.). fig.31

Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, Modern Britain 1900-1960, Melbourne, 2007, 69 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 56 (colour illus.).

Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 26 (colour illus.), 152. 1875

Clem Lloyd and Peter Sekuless, Australia's national collections, Sydney, 1980, 256 (illus.).

1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967. 51