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Slade School of Art

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The Slade was one of the most important English art schools of the late 19th and twentieth centuries. It was renowned for the curriculum, based on the French system of art education, adopted by Edward Poynter the first Slade Professor which emphasised life drawing above the long period of study from the antique which was the norm at institutions such as the Royal Academy. The Slade was also the first English art school to offer female students equal opportunities to study from the life model. A succession of distinguished Slade Professors including Alphonse Legros, Frederick Brown, Henry Tonks and William Coldstream ensured that the Slade attracted some of the most talented students of the day and produced some of the most important artists in twentieth century Britain.

This distinguished history is reflected in the Slade Collection which both contains individual items of undisputed quality and value, and is of outstanding significance for the history of 20th century British art practice in its systematic record of developments in British Art education. The collection has been formed by means of a prize system through which works were presented to the college in various categories. The Summer Composition Competition prize was the most prestigious of the prizes awarded to students at the Slade. Students were set a title at the beginning of the Summer Vacation and produced large multi-figure compositions. These paintings were intended as a continuation of the large scale 'history' paintings which had traditionally been the most prestigious form of subject matter for artists to undertake. In keeping with this set titles for the competition were usually drawn from the bible or the classics. Prizes were also awarded for life painting and drawing, head painting, landscape and paintings and drawings after the antique, and printmaking and the prizewinning art works constitute a collection containing examples of the early work of important British artists. The collection has a virtually complete collection of prize work in these categories between 1890 and 1960 and selected examples of prize work from 1960 - 1999. The range of the prize collection means that it documents important changes in art practice and art education from the last manifestations of academic history painting as exemplified in work by Augustus John with its quotations from the old masters, to the urban modern life paintings of Albert Rutherston, the Euston Road School influence under William Coldstream, and the eclectic influences including late cubism and abstract impressionism on student work in the 1950s and 1960s.

The collection forms an important counterpoint to other museum collections of 20th century British Art in Britain such as that of the Tate Gallery, since it not only contains rare early work by many important artists represented in other collections, but also documents the practice of artists who did not become sufficiently successful to be represented in national collections, and thus forms a context for the works held by these institutions. Equally the collection is an important resource for feminist art historians as the Slade was the first British art school to allow women to study art on equal terms by giving them access to the life model. Female artists gained a high proportion of the prizes at the school and so are well represented in the collection, which is often a starting point for research on artists whose work is not easily found in other public collections. The collection also houses many twentieth century drawings by Professors at the Slade including substantial holding of the work of Henry Tonks and Randolph Schwabe, and a comprehensive collection of modern prints from the Slade Printmaking Department.

Works from Slade School of Art

Two Studies of a Female Nude from behind
Peter Paul Rubens 1630
Study for Moses and the Brazen Serpent
Augustus John 1898
Nude Girl seen from the back with right leg raised
Henry Tonks 1912
Study of a Woman, Reclining
Dora Carrington 1912
Head of a Wounded Soldier
Henry Tonks 1917
Study for the Deluge
Winifred Knights (Monnington) 1920
Composition Study
David Bomberg 1921
Chartres Cathedral
David Bomberg 1947
Reaper (p)
Richard Hamilton 1949
Reaper (k)
Richard Hamilton 1949
Reaper (d)
Richard Hamilton 1949
Reaper (g)
Richard Hamilton 1949
Reaper (f)
Richard Hamilton 1949
Seated Female Nude
Martin Froy 1950
Richard Hamilton 1950
Microcosmos (Plant Cycle)
Richard Hamilton 1950
Rachel Whiteread 1987
A Necessary Change of Heart
John Isaacs 2000
Cecily Brown 2001

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