R Bulmer lived in Rotherham, sadly we know little else on this talented artist.
This nude painting shows a sympathetic use of colour and a competent understanding of the human form. This painting is likely to have been done after a sketch completed in a life drawing class as the pose of the woman, here close-by discarded robe and placement on a raised platform all suggest this to be the location.
Life Drawing is an artist practice with a long history. While the studio practices of the artists of antiquity are largely a matter of conjecture, that they often drew and modelled from nude models is suggested by the anatomical sophistication of their works. However, it was ‘The Carracci’ who opened their Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna in the 1580s, set the pattern for later art schools by making life drawing the central discipline. The course of training began with the copying of engravings, then proceeded to drawing from plaster casts, after which the students were trained in drawing from the live model. Into the 17th and 18th centuries mastery in drawing was considered a prerequisite to painting and this was continued to be achieved through the study of a live model.
This nude is reminiscent of art by the Camden Town Group, in terms of its treatment of subject and colour palette. Specifically, it is comparable to the Camden Town Group’s painting of nude models in shabby tenements. However, while many of these artists, Sickert is but one example, often applied some drastic narrativising of the naked women depicted, in this artwork any narrative seemingly takes a back seat to a visual exactness.