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Important Australian Art / Jack Kilgour (1900-1987) The New Pilgrims, 1974

Lot 32
Jack Kilgour
The New Pilgrims, 1974
23 August 2022, 19:00 AEST

AU$7,000 - AU$9,000

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Jack Kilgour (1900-1987)

The New Pilgrims, 1974
signed lower right: 'J. Noel Kilgour'
oil on canvas
88.0 x 70.0cm (34 5/8 x 27 9/16in).


Collection of the artist
Private collection, Brisbane

Sulman Prize: 1975, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1975
Kilgour: A Retrospective, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, New South Wales, 6-30 October 1977, cat. 37 (illus.)

Art historian, Joanna Mendelson, discusses Kilgour's formative years in the 1977 retrospective in which the present work was exhibited: 'Jack Noel Kilgour belongs to that group of Australian artists who could with truth be described as "the lost generation" of Australian Art. It is always tempting to write only of the notorious or the avant-garde. Kilgour, Arthur Murch, Douglas Dundas and their associates are not notorious, nor could they be described as innovator, rather, these artists paint in what Daniel Thomas has described as a "modernized academicism" which gives their works a peculiarly timeless quality.

Kilgour's painting is the product of three traditions, separate though inter-relating. Together they explain the considered, formal composition, the smooth, tight brush-work of his earlier paintings, and the beautiful precise balance of all his work.

Kilgour was first employed as an architectural draughtsman and had been working for several years when he started to study art at the Royal Art Society. Also, his work has been influenced by the demands of commercial art, as he worked for some time at Catts Patterson Advertising in Sydney and later in London, as a freelance illustrator. This imposed a discipline and control on his work and may also have been responsible for introducing a note of wit into some of his paintings...

Like Sir William Dobell and so many other Australian artist's, Kilgour is a product of the academic training of the Sydney Art School. When he and Dobell were students in the 1920's the school was run by the aging Julian Ashton, but the evening class which they attended was mainly taught by Henry Gibbons. It is this background with its emphasis on academic draughtsmanship that is the basic strength of Kilgour's painting.. The traditions of the Sydney Art School were reinforced when, in 1931, Kilgour and his wife Nancy went to England to study first at St. Martin's School of Arts and Chelsea Polytechnic and later at the Royal Academy Schools.'

Whilst the present work was painted much later in the artist's career, it is a superb example demonstrating Kilgour's academic approach and technical ability. Looking across Trafalgar Square from the steps of the National Gallery, we see the hustle and bustle leading towards Whitehall and the towering Big Ben. Kilgour himself entered the work in the 1975 Sulman Prize, as well and included it in the 1977 Retrospective exhibition alongside many of his interwar London scenes. Aptly titled "The New Pilgrims" the present work is an ode to his fond memories painting the urban landscapes of London during the 1930s.

Alex Clark

Additional information