During the 1920s, in his still lifes and figure paintings, O'Conor grappled with the perennial challenge of representing three-dimensional forms in space. The expression of volume necessitated careful study of the way light fell on objects, which, in the case of life models, was coupled with a sensitivity to the infinitesimal variations of absorbed and reflected light afforded by naked flesh.
The fall of light across the torso of this nude has been handled with great assurance and observational accuracy, notwithstanding the speed at which the painting must have been executed. The artist even managed to indicate the protusion of the collar bone, where it catches the light beneath her chin and neck. The slope of the model's shoulders and the slight forward tilt of her body lend her a sense of vulnerability, and while her gaze confronts the viewer, she does not give the appearance of being totally relaxed. The reason for this may have been that the model was sitting to O'Conor for the first time - a theory which would tend to be supported by his established system of making spontaneous drawn and painted studies of a model first, before progressing to larger, more elaborate compositions.
We are very grateful to Jonathan Benington for providing the catalogue entry for lots 180-7.