30 Female Nude Standing


Title: Female Nude Standing

Artist/Source: Dora Carrington (1893 – 1932), Slade student 1910-14

Date: 1914

Medium/Technique: pencil on paper

UCL Art Collections #6042

One can see the early seeds of Dora Carrington’s interest in the female form in this drawing from her time at the Slade, from 1910 to 1914. Her focus on the outline of the body evokes Henry Tonks’ emphasis for his life drawing students on the change in contours. Here, the constantly moving line of Carrington’s pencil communicates the lumpy presence of cellulite beneath the skin, an emblem of femininity and alternative beauty founded on the appreciation of Rubens’ similarly cellulitic subjects. Carrington’s figure stands in ‘contrapposto’, a standing position whereby the figure has most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off axis from the hips and legs, as seen with the Apollo Belvedere (in this pack), yet the genitals at the axis of this movement have been artistically side stepped. Carrington’s figure is not only an emblem of femininity however; her curly hair, distinctive face and unusual shape act as sites of her individuality. Her subject’s strongly shaded, heavy breasts also contradict the classical canons of female proportion found in such works as Albrecht Dürer’s Adam and Eve (see UCL Art Museum #471).

Carrington’s career began with her winning a scholarship at the Slade, where she studied alongside Paul Nash, Christopher Nevinson, Mark Gertler and Stanley Spencer. She is perhaps best known for her membership in a bohemian social scene including Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and Gerald Brenan. Tracing her work is difficult, since she did not exhibit frequently or sign her art. At one point she participated in the Omega Workshops. She produced work in a wide range of media, including tiles, furniture, woodcuts and oil paintings. She herself defied gender conventions at the time, wearing a pageboy haircut before it was fashionable and having at least one lesbian affair. Her experience outside gender norms may have motivated a large corpus questioning and celebrating femininity. A large part of her work focuses on the depiction of women.

Related works:

Elsie McNaught, Portrait of Dora Carrington, pastel, c.1912 (UCL Art Museum #2154).

Dora Carrington, Female Figure Lying on Her Back, 1912, oil on canvas (UCL Art Museum #5204).

Dora Carrington, Female Figure Standing, 1913, oil on canvas (UCL Art Museum #5206).

Dora Carrington, Standing Male Nude, 1912, pencil drawing (UCL Art Museum #6032).

Dora Carrington, Standing Female Nude, 1912, pencil drawing (UCL Art Museum #6033) – see also verso.

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