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The Listener, 1916
Framed (ref: 8003)
Signed and dated
Oil on canvas
45 x 39 in. (114.3 x 99 cm)
Provenance: The Fortunoff collection [HF 32]
Exhibited: 1916, International Society, Summer Exhibition;
1917, Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts;
1921 Fine Art Society, 'William Strang Memorial Exhibition'.
1981 Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, National Portrait Gallery, London, cat no 26.
Literature: William Strang RA 1859-1921, Sheffield City Art Galleries, page 50.
"There is", wrote 'Tis' (Colour Magazine, September 1916), "that picture of his entitled 'The Listener'. It represents apparently a coster girl listening to the love offer of a coster. But they are not really coster types, nor are their costumes really coster costumes. Strang s'en fiche: he was concerned with the great fundamental of love-making: he, according to his own explanation, was intent only upon things that matter; hence the plain background, the diagrammatic still-life, the contempt for textures".
It was in works like this that Strang returned to the interests that had stimulated his most successful early works, the 'Adam and Eve' series (1899-1901), where his concern was primarily in simplifying form and colour, and subordinating technique to serve the expressive needs of the subject. The Post-Impressionist exhibitions of 1910 and 1911 had revived this interest, in more contemporary terms, and introduced to him the possibility of a more arbitrary use of colour. The work of Augustus John is an obvious influence in the choice and composition of the coster girl, whilst the still-life of fruit and vegetables relate to an earlier work by his Slade contemporary, W.Y. MacGregor, 'The Vegetable Stall' (1884, National Gallery of Scotland).