Woman with a Bird signed and dated 'Cecil Collins 1943' (upper left) and further partially signed 'Cecil ...' (verso) oil on canvas 25.5 x 18 cm. (10 x 7 in.) in a hand-painted frame
PROVENANCE: Mrs. Valerie Alport Mr. Francis King
EXHIBITED: London, Alex Reid & Lefevre, Cecil Collins, February 1944, no.14 (where lent by Mrs. Valerie Alport) London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Cecil Collins: A retrospective exhibition of paintings, drawings and tapestries 1928 - 1959, November - December 1959, no.35 (where lent by Mrs. Valerie Alport)
After the success of his involvement in the International Exhibition of Surrealism (New Burlington Galleries, 1936) Collins and his wife Elisabeth moved to Devon, developing an already close acquaintance with the American artist Mark Tobey and attending his classes at Dartington Hall. He held his first exhibition at the Barn Studio (part of the Dartington Hall Art Department) in 1937, and after Tobey's departure in 1938 Collins took on a teaching role until 1943, teaching alongside Bernard Leach, Hein Heckroth and Willi Soukop. It was in his final year of teaching that the current work was painted. Whilst at Dartington Hall Collins developed his interest in the arts of the Far East as well as his passion for German Expressionism, adapting these influences alongside his highly personalised mythology, here visible in the depiction of the woman or priestess. A similar figure was to appear in his late and monumental The Music of Dawn (1988) now in the Tate Collection (T05744), depicting a golden priestess on a journey back to Paradise, here the bird replaced by a golden staff.