Sir Matthew Smith

Femme de cirque [Circus Woman]

About this artwork

Smith’s post-World War I work is often viewed as a self-indulgent exploration of the female form. His model, Vera Cunningham, for several years in the 1920s was also his lover and this relationship resulted in more sensuous paintings than his earlier Fitzroy Street nudes of around 1915-6. This work is characteristic of the style Smith is chiefly known for – richly coloured and luxurious with vibrant brush strokes. The composition is feminine and fluid, emphasised by the artist’s typical inclusion of material. The model is almost certainly Vera but in titling the work ‘Circus Woman’, Smith suggests a narrative, which is continued in her looking away from the artist. In the 1920s and 1930s Smith spent a considerable part of each year in France, hence the French titles of some of his works.

  • title:
    Femme de cirque [Circus Woman]
  • accession number:
    GMA 758
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • date created:
    Dated 1925
  • measurements:
    116.80 x 81.30 cm (framed: 142.00 x 106.00 x 10.00 cm)
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1960
  • copyright:
    © estate of the artist
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Sir Matthew Smith

Sir Matthew Smith