Provenance: Hamet Gallery, London, where purchased by Wright Ludlington on 19 October 1971 Private Collection, Switzerland
Exhibitions: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, USA, Sepember - October 1973.
Edward Burra, Stage and Cabaret, James Hyman Gallery, London, 21 January - 7 March 2003.
Edward Burra: Real and Surreal, James Hyman Gallery, London, 28 April - 27 May 2005.
Literature: Edward Burra: Real and Surreal, James Hyman Gallery, London, 2005, (cat. 5), illustrated (un-numbered).
Burra's concern for life at the fringe of society is evident in this drawing of 1931. Taking as his setting the music hall or cabaret, the work highlights the sexual tension of interactions between men and women among the less gentile sectors of society. There is disharmony in the body language between the central male figure and the female on the left, who appears to reject the male attention to which she is subjected whilst nevertheless provocatively flaunting her sexuality. The lascivious grimace of the central male leaves an overriding impression of the sexual objectification of the female form. The somewhat sinister overtones this carries renders the image grotesque and uncomfortable, and thus foreshadows his later work in which the manipulation of the female form took centre stage on his route to Surrealism. Much of the woman's eroticism is derived from her scanty and provocative stage costume, which is highly characteristic of Burra's ongoing interest in female clothing and external attributes as a key to femininity.