Grace Robertson, On the Caterpillar, 1956 (printed later)
Lot 10ΩAR
Grace Robertson (British, born 1930) On the Caterpillar, London Women's Pub Outing (Clapham), 1956 50.5 x 40.5cm (19 7/8 x 15 15/16in).
Sold for £1,920 (US$ 3,227) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Grace Robertson (British, born 1930)
On the Caterpillar, London Women's Pub Outing (Clapham), 1956
Gelatin silver print, signed, titled and dated in pencil on the reverse. The photographer's credit stamp also on the reverse. Printed later.
50.5 x 40.5cm (19 7/8 x 15 15/16in).


  • Literature:
    Robertson, G., Grace Robertson: Photojournalist of the 50s (Virago, 1989), p.92
    Robertson, G., A Sympathetic Eye (University of Brighton, 2002), p.77

    The following 18 lots showcase the strength and breadth of British photojournalism in the mid-20th century. Its greatest champion at this time was Picture Post. Founded in 1938, the magazine enjoyed almost instant success, boasting a circulation of over a million within a few issues. A liberal publication, unusually receptive to work by women photographers in this period, it provided a rare platform for photojournalistic imagery and played an important role in the creation of a sense of national identity throughout the Second World War. Running until 1957, its numerous features illustrating social inequalities also played a part in the developments which led to the setting up of the welfare state.

    The great generation of photographers which Picture Post inspired included Grace Robertson, Thurston Hopkins, Bert Hardy, Humphrey Spender and Bill Brandt, and together they transformed the landscape of British photojournalism into the 1950s.

    Grace Robertson was born in Scotland in 1930. She grew up in an intensely journalistic environment (her father, Fyfe Robertson, worked for Picture Post), and realised early on that she wanted to be a photographer, after observing two women talking and laughing together. It is for her work in Picture Post that she is most well-known; famously attuned to the publication's social agenda, she recognised the insight needed to understand how groupings of pictures tell a good story. Her work deals largely with women, portraying them sympathetically and with a reassuring domesticity.

    The Battersea women's pub outing series was first published in Picture Post, Summer 1954. The photographer has written of it: "I can't recall ever having been present at a more high-spirited gathering of like-minded people who, for a few hours, gave themselves up utterly to the enjoyment of the moment.. When the party broke up and the women trailed off to their homes in small laughing and singing groups, one could only guess at a very different mood on the following day." (Robertson 1989, p.71).

    In 1956, Robertson was asked by Life to repeat the women's pub outing picture story with women from Clapham. The Clapham women oozed "a boisterousness that was quite breathtaking", and this "carried the sequel to a successful conclusion" (Robertson 1989, p.87).
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