Euan Uglow (1932 – 2000)
- 83.8 X 111.8 CM
- OIL ON CANVAS
- Accession number
A woman reclines in glowing white, her posture a combination of relaxed elegance and studied, thoughtful tension, pressing together index finger and thumb on each hand. Although we have a full view of her face, she is looking outside the field of the canvas – dark eyes staring into the middle distance.
Whilst Euan Uglow’s studies of nudes are among his best-known works of the 1970s, the portrait Georgia has both a tonal quality and an engagement with the subject that sets it apart from the colder objectivity of the nudes. The palette is soft, yet bright – colours rich with grey and violet – accentuated by the boldly patterned teal and pale honey fabric upon which she rests. Painting marks – pale areas of thinner paint, of grids and crosses – can be seen, mainly focused around the outline that separates the model from the wall behind her. Here, the image’s cohesion is occasionally torn into, giving us a glimpse of the grid on which the paint sits. The area around the head and arms in particular seems to shimmer with the movement around the white fabric, which spills into the atmosphere, causing the model’s figure to advance and recede against the deep dove-coloured wall behind her. As Myles Murphy has commented,
The answer to the question of what is the object, is that everything is. … There are two structures here, as there are in the Italian landscapes: the one of the imagery and space and the accompanying one across the surface – structures which are usually so close, one so overlays the other, that they are accepted as one and the same, but these later paintings are a reminder that the coinciding is a matter of arrangement and that they are capable of a separate and independent existence. 
The model is Georgia Georgallas, a longtime friend of Uglow, who began posing for him on Saturdays while she was a student at Camberwell Art College, where he taught. In this painting Georgia is wearing a long-sleeved Manchester United football shirt, with distinctive red and white striped cuffs and neckline, taken in to create a short mini dress. She also wears shiny Mary Quant tights dyed pink, and a special ‘cupless bra’ that the artist sent Georgia to buy from a corsetière in Knightsbridge. When first looking at the painting, the viewer’s gaze is caught by the face, tripping over the barely held breasts to the stomach – an area of gentle luminosity – calm and gently rounded. It is on the stomach that the brightest white light is focused, in a long, soft oval, which assists the tactile impression of weight and rest. ‘We instinctively feel’, writes Richard Kendall, ‘the support for the woman’s body in the buoyant upholstery and understand the muscular contrast between her solemnly held head and her lightly poised fingers.’
1. Myles Murphy quoted in Catherine Lampert, Euan Uglow: The Complete Paintings (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 121.
2. Ibid., 120.
3. Richard Kendall, ‘Euan Uglow: Eye, Hand and Mind’, in Euan Uglow: Controlled Passion, exh. cat. (Kendal: Abbot Hall Gallery, 2003),
Published in Passports British Council Collection, British Council, London 2009