Oil on panel, signed lower right & inscribed verso
Image size: 4 x 6 3/4 inches (10 x 17 cm)
Exhibition label verso – Clifford Hall Exhibition 1989, No. 24 Belgrave Gallery
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‘Two Women by the Sea’ is a typical example of Hall’s most distinctive work from his later life. From the mid 1960s, Hall started to paint portraits of women swathed in towels or other fabric almost from head to toe with the face hidden. These works echoed Hall’s many earlier works in which women were shown head down, brushing their hair so that the hair obscured the face, or facing away from the spectator, which he had previously interspersed with conventional full face portraits.
Here we can see just that, with both women’s faces being deliberately obscured. Despite this unusual compositional choice, this painting conveys a calm and comforting scene of two women in gentle repose.
Clifford Hall was born in Wandsworth in 1904, and spent his youth in nearby Richmond upon Thames.
In the 1920s he studied at the Richmond and Putney Art Schools. From 1925 to 1927 he studied at the Royal Academy where he won a Landseer Scholarship. He started accepting portrait commissions which funded his studies and lodgings.
From 1928 he lived in Paris where he shared a studio in Malakoff with Edwin John, son of Augustus John.
Hall returned to England in the 1930s where he painted local scenes in Soho and elsewhere. From 1940 he painted Quentin Crisp three times but the current whereabouts of two of these works is unknown. Some of his drawings from that period, depicting the effects of air raids, are in the Imperial War Museum.
Clifford Hall died on Christmas Day, 1973.