ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

mrs paul


Oil on canvas. 29¾ x 20in. (76.5 x 51cm.) Inscribed on the stretcher: ‘ITHELL COLQUHOUN MRS. PAUL CA. 1929’. Inscribed verso: ‘ROME SCHOLARSHIP IN MURAL PAINTING. I COLQUHOUN 10 CHARLBERT STREET NW8’. Provenance Sotheby’s, 1983 or 1984. Dickins, Middle Claydon, Bucks. 16 June, 2007, lot 226. Exhibited London, Imperial Gallery of Art, alongside other entries for the Rome Scholarship, in 1931, 1932, or 1933. In 1983 Colquhoun wrote to Sotheby’s offering to consign a painting of a seated nude modelled by Mrs. Paul who was ‘well known as a model at that time’. The correspondence is unclear, but the painting was probably offered at auction later in the year, and again at a ‘fast sale’ for which no catalogue was printed in late 1983 or early 1984. It was probably at this time that Colquhoun gave the work its title and inscribed the stretcher. This is one of a number of works with a Rome Scholarship inscription. Colquhoun applied for the Rome Scholarship in Mural Painting for the years 1931, 1932 and 1933, but she was unsuccessful each time. The British School at Rome awarded scholarships in architecture, sculpture and painting in addition to its primary purpose as an archaeological research institute. Candidates for the Mural Scholarship were required to submit: two figure compositions in colour, designed for wall decoration; a full-sized un- coloured cartoon for a portion of one of these; designs made with a view to the decoration of buildings; six drawings of the nude from life; one painting of a hand and one painting from the nude. It is not known in which year Colquhoun submitted the present painting as part of her application for the scholarship. But, as one of the figure studies painted during her years at the Slade, it would have been at least a couple of years old when she did so.