William Roberts (England, 1895-1980)


Figure 1.--This Roberts pinting, 'Bank holoday in the park' exhinits Robert's interest in ordinary contemprary life. Notice the school boy and red cricket ball. He was a leading Vorticist, but prefered to be called a cubist. He devised am easily reconizable style. One siurce describes it as hinting 'at newspaper reportage. His elongated stylised figures owed much to Cubism’s reflection of life in the city.'

William Roberts was an English artist who painte a wide range of subjects including including biblical, contemporarchy scenes, ethnics, mythology, potraits, and other subjects including World war I. His fther was an Irish carpenter. William was born in Hackney, London (1895). After finishing primary school and without the funds to attend art school full time, as a young teenager he began an apprenticeship with the advertising firm of Sir Joseph Causton Ltd. (1909). He wanted to become a poster designer. He attended evening classes at Saint Martin's School of Art in London. He won a London County Council scholarship to the Slade School of Art (1910). At this time he met several brilliant contemporaries: David Bomberg, Dora Carrington, Mark Gertler, Paul Nash, Christopher Nevinson, and Stanley Spencer. This group was intrigued by the various artistic movements if the time, including Post-impressionism and Cubism. Roberts and Bomberg were particularly imporessed. After the Slade, He traveled to France and Italy just before World war I where he had further exposure to current art trends (1913). He joined Roger Fry's Omega Workshops and produced Cubist-style works such as 'The Return of Ulysses' He then got involved with Wyndham Lewis who was promoting a British alternative to Futurism. Ezra Pound suggested it be called Vorticism. Roberts himself prepered the description 'Cubist' for his works duting this period. The bulk of his work, however does not exhibit the sharp gepmetric distortions of cunism. He fought in world war I, eventully becoming a cubist. He is also described as a Vorticist, but prefered to be called a cubist. He devised am easily reconizable style. One siurce describes it as hinting 'at newspaper reportage. His elongated stylised figures owed much to Cubism’s reflection of life in the city.' In addition to his World war I images, he is pobably best known for his contemprary scenes include people in various vibrant venues, boating, parks, picnics, raves, restaurants, busy street scenes as well as dingy interiors. He often mixed social classes. Among these are a park scene with a school boy and his red cricket ball. There were also two portraits of school boys, one his son, 'John' (1930). John wears a plain school jumper (sweater) unlike another boy painted at the same time wearing a more elaborate uniform--probably a prep school. The other is an unidentified school boy, sometimes thought to be John, but probaly not. He looks to be about 10 years old aearing a prep school uniform. A Roberts expert tells us, "I agree about the age. But the portrait was evidently not commissioned – someone bought it from a Roberts exhibition in 1931 – so, if I'm right about the sitter not being the artist's son, it was perhaps most likely to be a friend of the son. If a schoolfriend then it certainly wouldn't be a prep-school badge – at no stage could the Robertses have afforded private education. It's all a bit of a mystery, like so much to do with Roberts."






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Created: 4:12 AM 9/21/2015
Last updated: 4:13 AM 9/21/2015