This is the first picture by Burra to enter the York Art Gallery, which has a good but not a comprehensive collection of modem British art.

Like most of his paintings, it is in watercolour, a medium he favoured because of his poor health but used on an unusully monumental scale, and it exemplifies the two outstanding features of his work, his strong sense of design and his ability to evoke a feeling of evil and menace. The picture has a curious history. It is one of a group which Burra took to Boston in 1955 for a show at a commercial gallery. Four years later the owner of the gallery was murdered, and the pictures were collected in 1963 by an old friend of the artist's, the poet Conrad Aiken. Burra never reclaimed them, and they did not return to England until they were brought back by Aiken's widow in 1976, shortly after Burra's death. They were eventually exhibited at the Lefevre Gallery in the spring of 1980.

Provenance

Collected by a friend of the artist's, the poet Conrad Aitken.


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