Victor Skipp collection
Note: In 1931, F.E. McWilliam travelled to Paris on a Robert Ross Leaving Scholarship from the Slade with fellow student Beth Crowther, from Golear, near Huddersfield, whom he was to marry in March 1932 at St. John's Presbyterian Church, Kensington,London. The McWilliams intended to live, study and work in Paris since: 'it was the mecca, and the whole atmosphere testified to this; holy ground, full of memories of Cézanne and the presence of Picasso.' He met Zadkine and visited his studio and h ealso went to Brancusi's studio and was given an extensive tour by the Romanian sculptor with long discussions on his work practice. However, in 1932/33 sterling collapsed against the French franc and both Beth and "Mac" (as he was known affectionately by his friends) were forced to return to England where they rented a home in Chartridge, Buckinghamshire. The couple only produced paintings when in Paris as sculpture was taught as a secondary subject at the Slade when McWilliam studied there and paintings were easier to sell, easier to execute and much easier to transport. McWilliam began carving, which was his first love, once settled at Chartridge making use of the wood from a fallen cherry tree. He had befriended the Belfast sculptor George MacCann (1909-67) as students in London and through him was introduced to Henry Moore. MacCann had been a student of Moore's at the Royal College of Art. Moore was, at the time, a carver in stone and wood and his influence then was enormous, not only in England but also internationally. The present work, belongs to a series of cherrywood carvings McWilliam made in the the recognisable form of a woman - creating an open space in the middle of the figure as Moore had extolled in 1932. Moore believed that by opening up the sculpture it gave the work depth and the space creates a sense of volume, which McWilliam referred to as 'the 4th dimension.'
We are grateful to Dr Denise Ferran for dating this work.