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French Cyclists with a Girl

Christopher Wood, 1925 possibly; 1926 possibly

WAG 2005.13

About this object

This painting, with its lightly applied colour and sketchy lines, shows the influence of French artist and filmaker Jean Cocteau’s (1889-1963) fluid drawing style. Whilst living in France, Christopher Wood regularly made drawings of cyclists, dancers, sailors and bathers in this style. Though Wood studied briefly at the Académie Julian in Paris, he was largely self-taught. His style combined child-like simplicity with a limited range of colours. Cocteau had also encouraged Wood’s use of opium as a means of freeing creative expression. It was his dependence on the drug that led to his untimely death, aged 29. In a state of extreme paranoia, Wood jumped in front of an express train at Salisbury Train Station in 1930.

Born in Knowsley, Christopher Wood studied architecture at Liverpool University before heading to London to pursue a career as an artist. After developing a friendship with well-connected, gay, art collector Alphonse Kahn, Wood was invited to stay at his luxurious home in Paris. Kahn introduced Wood to the Parisian social scene, where he met artists such as Cocteau. However, it was Wood’s relationship with Chilean diplomat Antonio Gandarillas, who was married but attracted to men, that allowed him to settle in Paris and develop his career. Gandarillas funded Wood’s bohemian lifestyle and introduced him to important creative contacts. They lived together in a non-exclusive relationship for six years. After their seperation they remained close friends, even through Wood’s later relationships with women.

The painting was previously owned by the actor and writer Dirk Bogarde. According to John Coldstream (Bogarde’s biographer) Bogarde brought it to cheer himself up after he was forced to give up his beloved parrot, Annie, in 1968. Both works were on display at the house in France he shared with his manager and life partner Tony Forwood.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    French Cyclist and a Girl; French Cyclist with a Girl
  • Artist(s)
    Christopher Wood (British: English, born:1901-04-07, died:1930-08-21)
  • Date
    1925 possibly; 1926 possibly
  • Materials
    Board; Oil
  • Measurements
    19 cm x 23 cm x ; 7 1/2 in x 9 1/16 in
  • Physical description
    A woman in a red dress (on the left hand side) talking to two cyclists. The cyclist (in the centre of the image) wearing a green-blue polo shirt is resting his hand on the saddle. The other cyclist (positioned further back and to the right) is still seated on his bike.
  • Related people
    Art Fund (Previous owner); Sir Dirk Bogarde (Previous owner); Laurence Harbottle (Previous owner); Edward Mrs Hulton (Previous owner); Christopher Wood (Artist/maker)
  • Credit line
    Presented to the Walker Art Gallery by Laurence Harbottle through the National Art Collections Fund in 2005
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 11
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Art Fund

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Donated by Laurence Harbottle
    Owned until: 2005-03-04
    Disposal method: Donated to the Walker Art Gallery in 2005
  • Laurence Harbottle

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Gifted by Dirk Bogarde
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Donated to the National Art Collections Fund
  • Sir Dirk Bogarde

    Owned from: 1968-01
    How acquired: Purchased from Crane Kalman Gallery
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Gifted to G Laurence Harbottle
  • Edward Mrs Hulton

    Owned from: 1947-06-13
    How acquired: Purchased from the Redfern Gallery
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: Crane Kalman Gallery/ 178 Brompton RD, LONDON, SW3, KNI 7866 / (and at 35 South King Street, Manchester, 2/ Title "French Cyclists with a Girl"/ Artist Christopher Wood/ Purchaser Mr. D. Bogarde/ Date January 1968
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Backboard
  • Inscription text: The Redfern Gallery Ltd./ 20 Cork Street/ Burlington Gardens/ Bond Street, London, W.1/ Title "French Cyclists with a Girl"/ Artist CHRISTOPHER WOOD./ Purchaser Mrs. Edward Hulton/ Date June 13th. 1947.
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Backboard
  • Inscription text: 1926
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note: uncertain whether this refers to date or is a Lot number
    Inscription location: Backboard
Object view = Fine Art
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