Nude Study, 1939

Leon Underwood

Ink, Chalk and Graphite on paper, signed and dated ’39 lower right 28 x 22 cm

George Claude Leon Underwood (1890 – 1975)—a sculptor, painter, draughtsman, graphic artist as well as an author, a teacher and a philosopher—should be recognised as one of the founding fathers of British modernism.

He attended the Slade School of Fine Art and founded ‘The Island’, a graphical quarterly, in 1931. One year after matriculating at the Slade School of Fine Art to study draughtsmanship with Henry Tonks, Underwood became the assisting professor for life drawing at the Royal College of Art. Later, he would open Brook Green School of Art (1919 – 1954) in his private studio where some of his students included Eileen Agar, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Gertrude Hermes, Roland Vivian Pitchforth, Henry Moore and Raymond Cox-on. Even if the men and women that attended Underwood’s classes would later be recognised as some of the most influential English artists, Leon Underwood never attained much fame. The former manager of Tate Britain, Sir John Rothenstein said of him, “no artist from his generation has received so little honour or actually, been so neglected.

Henry Moore has later acknowledged his great debt to Underwood’s teaching.

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