Coldstream, William (1908-87)

(1908-87) Sir William Coldstream’s deft, sketching, underdrawing and sensitive brushwork have become synonymous with the Euston Road School, of which he was a prominent founding member. The group was established in 1937 in Fitzroy Street and fostered a new tradition of sober figurative painting in Britain. Its coterie broadened from the initial trio – Coldstream, Claude Rogers and Victor Pasmore – to include many former Slade students such as Graham Bell and Lawrence Gowing. Their philosophy encouraged pupils to draw and paint directly what they saw, and to seek out the subtle shifts of mood and light within the urban environment. Coldstream remained loyal to these objectives throughout his life. Coldstream will be remembered for his portraits. Winifred Burger (1937), one of many works now hanging at the Tate, forgoes prettiness for a sympathetic realism. The artist executed many nude studies often placing the figure in rooms which incorporate linear structures such as panelling or easels. Coldstream was a master of his craft, and his choices influenced British art in the twentieth century.

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