DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, The fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907, The Art Institute of Chicago, American Art Collection DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, Almina, daughter of Asher Wertheimer 1908, Tate, London, presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes in 1922
George BELL | Nude (Edwardian nude)

BELL, George
Australia 1878 – Australia 1966
France 1904-06, England 1906-20, Australia from 1920
Nude (Edwardian nude) 1910
oil on canvas
102.0 (h) x 126.8 (w) cm
signed and dated 'George Bell 1910' lower left
Geelong Gallery, gift of the artist's daughter, Mrs Antoinette Niven in 1967

In Nude, George Bell provocatively juxtaposed a luminous naked body with sombre outdoor clothing. The nude rests comfortably on a rather formal sofa, nestling into, but not concealed by, her warm coat. A little cat perches at her feet at the end of the sofa, a picture of feline composure. Bell’s meticulous rendering of the textures of fabrics and fur heightens the sensuality of contrasting flesh tones. Bell was also concerned with classical geometric structure, with the relationship between forms.

Bell’s Nude is similar to Philip Wilson Steer’s Seated Nude: The black hat c.1900 (cat. 129) in that it shows the nude rather shockingly in a drawing room rather than in the more traditional boudoir. Stylistically, however, Bell’s Nude is painted in a more academic tradition and Steer’s The black hat with freer and more expressive brushstrokes.

Gillian Fergusson

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