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Cecil Collins
The Artist and his Wife
Oil on canvas

1200 x 900 mm
Bequeathed by Elisabeth Collins, the artists widow, through the Art Fund 2001

Tate Britain

Excerpt from Tate:

This double portrait, one of the best known of Collins’s paintings, represented for him a return to a more straightforward imagery after his fantastic and dream subjects of the 1930s. It depicts the artist with his wife, Elisabeth. They are shown as equals, the outward gaze of both sitters inviting the onlooker to share in the celebration of their marriage. Collins paints each object between them as a separate item and with the same degree of attention. This enumeration, heightened by the reverse perspective of the table, serves to ‘sharpen our sense of its [the table’s] symbolic meanings, the first and most obvious signifying the meeting place of family life and the exchange of foods on both physical and spiritual levels between the couple’ (Anderson, pp.51-2). Judith Collins has emphasised many of the unusual objects in the painting, for example the ankh, an Egyptian symbol of eternity, which they both hold in their right hand. In addition she sees the table as an altar, with Collins and his wife taking on the roles of ‘priests in a ritual’ (Collins, p.18).



Cecil Collins, British, (1908-1989)
b. March 26, 1908, Devon
d. 1989

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