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The Awakening
© Estate of William McCance

Reference URL

The Awakening 1925

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
During the early 1920s McCance began to schematise the human body, stripping away detail until it had an almost robotic appearance. This is one of several oils which feature vividly coloured, cubist-inspired nudes in a landscape. Specific stories seem to be suggested, though precisely what these are remains a mystery. The figures in the background appear to be making gestures but are obscured by the nudes in the front, caught in curiously contorted postures. These poses have clearly been chosen to provide a compositional structure and give the idea of movement in opposing directions, but the resulting picture adds up to far more than this. It is the awkward rigidity, the ambiguity and the strangeness which makes the painting intriguing.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


A style of painting originated by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the first two decades of the 20th century. Instead of painting a figure or object from a fixed position they represented it from multiple viewpoints.

Composition, Cubism


  • Acc. No. GMA 4840
  • Medium Oil on board
  • Size 61.00 x 46.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased 2007