Four Figures in a Landscape, 1961
Framed Gouache painting 25 x 32 cms (9.5" x 12.5")
Cornelius McCarthy was one of Britain's leading contemporary
painters of the male form. His unique style makes his work instantly
recognizable. Throughout his long career his subject matter has always
been men, either singly or in groups, and from a wide variety of ethnic
backgrounds. McCarthy conveys his subjects not as beefcake, but as
real men, strong and unapologetic.
The sometimes surprising directness of his pictures, their distinctive
formal qualities, sensuous effects and visual sophistication all have,
as their basis, the mysterious empathy we feel for other human beings.
His paintings explore and develop this theme, in particular the relationship
between artist, model, picture and spectator, through the form known
as the ‘odalisque’.
This French term is derived from a Turkish word originally signifying
a female slave in an oriental harem, and was adopted in the 19th and
20th centuries by artists to refer to a type of voluptuous female
nude, often but not always in an erotic pose and evidently aware of
the viewer’s gaze. McCarthy skilfully extends this concept to
the male model who in a similar way welcomes the admiration and interest
of the spectator, thereby creating a lasting experience.