The present work is a preparatory drawing for the oil Children by the Sea, 1945, which is in the collection of the Tate Gallery, London.
In the drawing, a file of figures lead out from the house to the girl in the foreground, who is being watched by the school boy on the left, his relative isolation perhaps suggested by the stark jetty jutting into the sea, just above his head. In the finished oil, the number of the figures has been reduced to four and the boy of the left seems to staring straight ahead, as if psychologically cut off the others, and the jetty has been removed. Memories of the Cornish landscape inform the background in both drawing and painting, but the terrain is less actual than imaginary, Minton possibly drawing on his own childhood experiences in the introversion expressed through the figure of the boy. The strange shape and drawing of the heads reflects the influence of the Polish artist, Jankel Adler, who had an interest in Chassidic poetry and mysticism and had got to know Paul Klee well while working in a studio next door to him in Dusseldorf. In 1940 Adler had joined the Polish army and arrived with its remnants, after Dunkirk, in Glasgow, where he was demobbed. He came to London in 1943 and lived in the same studio block as Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, with whom Minton shared accommodation for a short period, 77 Bedford Gardens in Notting Hill. Adler’s admiration for Klee, plus his brief friendship with Picasso, made him a conduit for European modernism. Some influence of this kind can be detected in this drawing and the related oil painting, into both of which is also blended a strong vein neo-romanticism.
We are very grateful to Professor Frances Spalding for preparing this catalogue entry.