Roger Bristow writes of the 1943 Lefevre Gallery exhibition, 'The exhibition, Paintings by Robert Colquhoun, showed twenty-six oils of varying sizes and subject-matter in this first, vitally important, one-man show. These pictures clearly demonstrated Colquhoun's progression from small, concentrated landscapes to the inclusion of the human element and, ultimately, to the later, larger paintings where the figure was of paramount importance. As well as signalling Colquhoun's shifting interest in subject-matter, the paintings also demonstrated his growing artistic self-confidence as evidenced by his use of larger canvasses and a greater bravura in style and execution.
'Among the other paintings in the exhibition was a series of romantically infused compositions of young women on rocky shorelines posed against the sea. In its subject matter, colouration and technique, this group of small oil paintings is indebted to Paul Gauguin, one of the front-ranking Post-Impressionists whom Colquhoun had admired since an art-student. The atmosphere generated within these pictures is undeniably and consciously 'poetic'.
'Included in this unusual group were Reclining Woman [the present work], Woman Reading by the Sea and Encounter. In the last work, a tall, narrow picture, a full-length image of a young woman is positioned with her back towards the viewer, while a young man, much reduced in scale by exaggerated perspective, walks towards her from some rocks on the sea's edge, his right arm half raised as if in a greeting. Apart from the painting's deliberately charged atmosphere, the rendition of the woman is also unusually interesting. With her head turned in sharp profile, she is shown wearing a simple knee-length dress revealing clearly the outline of her thighs, hips and buttocks, all sensuously painted. Although not overtly erotic, there is a strong and unusual sexual element in the figuration of the woman that does not seem to recur in any of Colquhoun's later paintings' (op. cit., pp. 152-153).
We are very grateful to Roger Bristow for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.