William Roberts initially planned to train as a poster designer, but classes at Saint Martins School of Art, a scholarship to the Slade School of Art in 1910 and subsequent travels in Italy and France introduced him to post-impressionism and cubism. Following a period working at Roger Fry’s Omega Workshops – a design enterprise founded by members of the Bloomsbury Group – he became involved with the Vorticist movement, which embraced abstraction as an artistic response to the First World War. After his gruelling experiences during the war, his work returned to rounder, fuller, more representational forms. Despite being regarded as somewhat of a recluse, Roberts spent most of his career painting and drawing ordinary people going about their life at home, work and play. He was particularly drawn to individuals at leisure. The Seaside (c. 1966) presents a scene familiar to British beaches, with holidaymakers, perhaps from the same family, jostling around the canvas. Some sit on rugs, applying sun cream, others, carrying small children or flotation devices, wade into a flat sea intersected by undulating, grassy cliffs and a small red sailing boat, while the panting family dog looks on. The strong outlines and graphic flatness are typical of Roberts’ late style, with the composition of tightly packed bodies and limbs creating a rhythm and a sense of movement across the canvas.
- Artwork Details: 61 x 76.2cm
- Material description: oil on canvas
- Credit line: © Estate of John David Roberts courtesey of the William Roberts Society
- Theme: Figurative
- Medium: Painting
- Accession number: AC 863