William Roberts, R.A. (1895-1980)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
William Roberts, R.A. (1895-1980)

Mahomet's Ride

William Roberts, R.A. (1895-1980)
Mahomet's Ride
signed 'William/Roberts' (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 x 30 in. (91.4 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted circa 1967.
with Spink, London.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 27 November 1997, lot 109.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 10 March 2005, lot 27.
with Osborne Samuel Gallery, London.
W. Roberts, Paintings and Drawings by William Roberts, R.A., London, 1976, pl. 15.
London, Royal Academy, 1968, no. 482.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Born in Hackney in 1895, William Roberts was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to a firm of commercial artists and two years later won a scholarship to the Slade. Influenced to some extent by the early cubism of Picasso, his strong draughtsmanship soon gained recognition. In 1913 he worked briefly with Roger Fry in the Omega Workshops, where he met Wyndham Lewis, who had a strong influence on him and led him to join The Rebel Art Centre. He was one of the first artists in the country to adopt abstraction, and became an audacious and brilliant exponent of this art form only to discard it and return to figurative painting a year or two later. His involvement with the Vorticist group at the age of eighteen reached a peak with his contribution to Blast 2 and the Doré Galleries exhibition in 1915.

Like so many young men of his time, he was drawn inexorably into the Great War. He was a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery and an Official War Artist producing works of extraordinary emotional depth and maturity. Throughout the twenties and thirties there was a dynamic and sometimes harsh quality to his work. This gave way to the more lyrical mood of his Oxford period. His concern for the human figure or for people engaged in a particular activity is apparent in these pictures. His treatment of the human figure is, in essence, formal with its strong draughtsmanship and an original, dramatic sense of composition.

Roberts first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1948. He continued to show new work there every subsequent year until his death, becoming an Associate in 1958 and an Academician in 1966. His working life spanned almost seven decades: after a stormy beginning his style gradually crystallised but he never lost his quality of draughtsmanship nor his unique sense of design both of which were with him from his days at the Slade until his death.

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