Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976)   BIOGRAPHY

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Study for St. Luke's Printing Works, c. 1935
Passe-partout (ref: 1048)
Red chalk and pencil on tracing paper, squared in pencil for transfer, 18 1/2 x 12 in. (47 x 30 cm.)


Provenance: Evelyn Monnington.
Literature: Judy Egerton, Sir Thomas Monnington, Royal Academy 1977

Monnington began studies for 'St. Luke's Printing Works', his third Bank of England picture, in 1934. He completed the cartoon in 1936. The finished painting is the same width as the cartoon but a few inches higher. It was completed in October 1937, with the assistance of L. J. Watson, one of his recent students at the Royal College of Art.
The cartoon illustrates Monnington's methods of controlling perspective, learned from Piero della Francesca. The spectator's viewpoint is the top of the cupboard below which parallel lines, graduated and numbered at the side, measure the distance leading in to the picture.
The three men portrayed are, from left to right, W. W. E. Paddick, Labourer; S. B. Chamberlain, General Works Manager; and J. R. Dudin, Supervisor of the Printing Section. The three girls are drawn from models (see no. 24). The downward gaze of the girl handling banknote paper is Madonna-like; but her hands and wrists have been drawn from accurate observation of the deft and practised movements of printing operatives.

Sir Thomas Monnington (1902-1976)

Painter, especially of murals. Born in London, he studied at the Slade School in 1918-23 and was Rome Scholar in 1923-26. He married fellow Rome Scholar Winifred Knights in 1924. Among his public works are a decoration for St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, 1928, and the new Council House in Bristol, 1956. Monnington taught drawing at the Royal Academy Schools, 1931-39, and in 1949 joined the staff of the Slade, whose strong linear tradition marked his own work. Monnington is represented in a number of public galleries, including the Tate, British Museum and Imperial War Museum. He was elected RA in 1938, became its President in 1966 and was knighted in 1967. There was a memorial exhibition at the RA in 1977. Another traveled from the British School at Rome to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter and the Fine Art Society in 1997. From the 1940s Monnington lived in Groombridge, Kent; the local landscape inspired much of his post-war work. Monnington was one of the outstanding draughtsmen of his generation. He had a considerable influence as a teacher (Euan Uglow was among his pupils), and was one of the most effective of the twentieth-century presidents of the RA, turning around the Academy's ailing fortunes. Remarkably he was the first president of the Academy to produce abstract paintings and indeed made no distinction between abstract and figurative art: "Surely what matters is not whether a work is abstract or representative, but whether it has merit. If those who visit exhibitions would come without preconceptions, would apply to art the elementary standards they apply in other spheres, they might glimpse new horizons. They might ask themselves: is this work distinguished or is it commonplace? Fresh and original or uninspired, derivative and dull? Is it modest or pretentious?" (Interview in the Christian Science Monitor, 29.5.67).

Selected Literature: Judy Egerton, Sir Thomas Monnington, Royal Academy of Arts, 1977 Paul Liss, Sir Thomas Monnington, British School at Rome/Fine Art Society plc, 1997

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