28 Study of a Male Figure Walking to Right

Title: Study of a Male Figure Walking to Right

Artist/Source: Ethel Kathleen Cole (1892 1934), Slade Student 1910-13

Date: 1912

Medium/ Technique: pencil on paper

UCL Art Museum #6030

From its foundation in 1871, the Slade School of Fine Art had life drawing at the centre of its curriculum. A series of Slade Professors Edward Poynter, Alphonse Legros and Frederick Brown instituted the tradition of linear constructive drawing, but it would be Henry Tonks who became most closely identified with Slade drawing. The method demanded close observation of the model, supported by knowledge of anatomy and old master drawing prototypes, and a comparatively swift rendering of the model in line rather than tone. Close attention was paid to the structure, angles and junctions of the body, where the contours changed direction, and there was no attempt to render surface texture and local colour or to create a finished ‘academy’ drawing (see Anonymous, Reclining Made Nude, c. 1840 #8313). The drawing was seen primarily as a tool for exploring form with corrections to the contours retained as part of the drawing.

An American, Ethel Kathleen Cole (1892 1934) came across the pond to train at the Slade under Henry Tonks from 1910-13. Her student work here shows one of the few but increasingly present black models in the Slade’s life room. He wears a loincloth, typical of the coverage required by the life room protocol. The enlarged genitals under the loincloth may suggest a racialized concept of anatomy. The drawing reflects Cole’s skill in the difficult task of rendering movement, negotiating the complex task of simultaneously showing the action of joints and muscles while covering them beneath the skin in a static drawing. Cole won first prize in the life drawing competition at the Slade for her skilful study. After graduating she painted landscapes in oil and worked with watercolour, specializing in scenes of the Lake District near her home in Derwent Water.

Related works:

Anonymous, Reclining Made Nude, c.1840 (UCL Art Museum #8313): example of ‘academy’ drawing.

Carlo Cignani, Academic Life Study, chalk & wash, c.1729 (UCL Art Museum #314): example of ‘academy’ drawing.

Johann Jacobe, The V ienna Academy, 1790, mezzotint (UCL Art Museum #8078): example of life drawing context.

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