All past exhibitions

The Two Roberts | Colquhoun and MacBryde

From 22 November 2014 to 24 May 2015

Exhibition now finished

Past Exhbition
 The Scotsman

"This exhibition reveals the sheer magnetism, energy and originality which lies beneath [the artists'] work. Beautifully curated."

The Herald

"This show bursts with the vivid energies of work ripe for rediscovery."

The Independent

"The great achievement of lovers Robert Colquhoun and Robert Macbryde is finally coming to light in this super show."

The Spectator

This major exhibition will explore the work the Scottish artists Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun or ‘The Two Roberts’, as they were known. Friends of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, they took the London art world by storm in the 1940s, with sell-out exhibitions of their paintings, but by the 1960s their position as two of the country’s most celebrated artists had been eclipsed, and this will be the first major retrospective devoted to their work.

Image: Robert Colquhoun, The Students (detail), 1947, British Council Collection. © The Artist's Estate. Photography by Rodney Todd-White & Son.

Exhibition Curator Patrick Elliott, Fiona Green and Christopher Barker discuss the partnership that lasted almost three decades, and the influence it had on the Two Roberts' work.


About the Two Roberts

Robert MacBryde was born in Maybole in Ayrshire in 1913, Colquhoun in Kilmarnock in 1914. From poor, working class backgrounds, they met at Glasgow School of Art in 1933, and soon became lovers. In 1941 they moved to London where they became part of the celebrated Soho set that included artists such as Bacon, Keith Vaughan and John Craxton, and the poets Dylan Thomas and George Barker. Colquhoun specialised in figure painting, MacBryde in still-life. Hard drinking, volatile and uncompromising, their lives were as passionate and compelling as their art.

The Lefevre Gallery on Bond Street held a string of successful shows of their work; the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate acquired paintings. By 1950 they were among the most famous artists working in Britain. But as abstraction became the dominant force in European art in the late 1950s, and as their drinking increased, so their popularity suffered. Colquhoun died penniless in 1962, aged just 47; MacBryde was knocked over by a car and died in 1966. Few artists have catapulted to celebrity or descended into obscurity so swiftly: their remarkable careers lasted scarcely twenty years.