Girl with Light Hair signed 'E UGLOW' (lower right) oil on canvas 76.8 x 61 cm. (30 1/4 x 24 in.) Painted in 1949
PROVENANCE: Gifted by the artist to the family of the present owner, circa 1950s Thence by family descent
LITERATURE: Susan Campbell, Euan Uglow: Some Memories of the Painter, Collected by Susan Campbell, Browse & Darby, London, 2003, p.25 Catherine Lampert, Euan Uglow: The Complete Paintings, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2007, p.2-3 cat.no.2 (ill. p.3)
Euan Uglow was recognised as a prodigious talent from a young age in the stimulating atmosphere that defined the Camberwell School of Arts during the late 1940s. Having quickly progressed to the intermediate class by 1948, he found himself under the tutelage of Victor Pasmore and William Coldstream, both of whom had already taught together at the famous Euston Road School between 1937 and 1939. Whilst Uglow's mature work is more obviously aligned with that of Coldstream's, his earlier output owes much to Pasmore's abstraction and the broader Cubist influence that was being felt by several British artists at this time from the continent. In 1949 Pasmore had made a compilation of the writings of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Arp and others, Abstract Art: Comments by some Artists and Critics, which was privately printed for discussion with students.
Girl with Light Hair was painted during Uglow's final year at Camberwell and can be considered one of only a handful of Cubist inspired pictures that exist. The composition is heavily influenced by Picasso's important Femme nue assise (1909-10) which had been purchased by the Tate Gallery in 1949 and a black and white copy of which hung in the artist's studio. Both pictures depict a half-length female figure with angled arms, one of which is reaching below her waist. The backgrounds, whilst differing in colour scheme, both consist of numerous sharp and irregular shapes that add to the complexity. The model for the present work posed in fellow student Geri Morgan's room on Leigham Court Road. According to Morgan 'she looked like an Augustus John with her long hair, bare breasts and long skirt' (Susan Campbell, Euan Uglow: Some Memories of the Painter, Collected by Susan Campbell, Browse & Darby, London, 2003, p.25).