This is a sculpture of a kneeling woman, with head bowed and a hand held to her chest in a pose of submission and devotion. The idealised face is softly modelled and evokes a sensitive, introspective mood.
It is clear that Kay drew on the sculptural work of Wihelm Lehmruck in the creation of this work. Lehmruck’s ‘Kneeling Woman’ , created in 1911 and widely regarded as Lehmruck’s most important contribution to the history of art, is particularly comparable with this sculpture’s form and subject.
Bernard Kay was born (1927) and raised in Southport where his father owned a bicycle shop. He knew that he wanted to be an artist from the age of nine and his family supported that choice. After attending the Liverpool School of Art in 1943, Bernard went to the Royal Academy School and spent a year studying drawing.
In the 1950s he taught drawing and after winning a scholarship to study in Paris, he met and mixed with many of the famous artists of the Paris art scene, including Maurice Esteve and Picasso. Lydia Corbett, Picasso’s “ponytail model” was a lifelong friend.
While in Paris, he studied the process of aquatint etching under the pioneering artist Johnny Friedlaender. It was during this time that he travelled throughout the French countryside and collected drawings that would form the basis for his architectural landscape paintings. During his years in London he was part of the “London Scene” being friends with David Hockney, Nicky Clarke etc. He focused on large canvases in an abstract expressionist tradition, before returning to landscape paintings worked in a structured style using an earthy, muted palette.
In the 1980s Bernard “migrated” to Oundle in Northamptonshire, where he lived until his death in May 2021.