McFadyen has painted a restaurant scene where four well-dressed men sit to one side of a table. Two men are wearing scholar's caps and gowns, whilst the other two are wearing dinner jackets. These men represent McFadyen's 'distinguished professors' and are shown to be causing various mischief. The one on the far left, for example, appears to be squeezing something down the back of his neighbour's robes whilst gleefully observing a scene at the far left of the painting, involving a partially seen waiter and a female. At the other side of the table, a donkey, dressed as a sailor, drinks from a bowl and looks back towards the viewer.
The artist's decision to represent a donkey within the painting perhaps derives from an earlier work by George Grosz, entitled 'Eclipse of the Sun', 1926. In Grosz's painting, a blinkered donkey was intended to represent an ignorant and docile public among headless bureaucrats, an over-fed general and an armaments manufacturer.
In this case, McFadyen's style is both expressive and caricatural and is typical of the satirical nature of much of his work. Given the work's title and subject matter, one might conclude that he is questioning the unfair nature of employment and education opportunities.
- Artwork Details: 182.9 x 314cm
- Material description: oil on canvas
- Credit line: © the artist
- Theme: Figurative
- Medium: Painting
- Accession number: AC 2099