Privately Held

Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)

La Cathédrale Engloutie, circa 1950

SKU: 9926
Signed and inscribed 51. Oil on canvas

Height – 130.1cm x Width – 194.8cm


Atelier de l’artiste; vente, Sotheby’s, Londres, 24 avril 1985, lot 535 Collection privée, Royaume-Uni; vente anonyme, Christie’s, Londres, 9 novembre 1990, lot 231 The Mayor Gallery, Londres (acquis au cours de cette vente) Collection Vera et Arturo Schwarz, Milan (acquis auprès de celle-ci, en janvier 1991) Don de celle-ci au Israel Museum, Jérusalem, en 1998
Londres, Royal Academy of Arts, The 184th Exhibition, 1952, No. 155. Londres, New Burlington Galleries, The Women’s International Art Club Annual Exhibition, février-mars 1953, No. 97. Bradford, Cartwright Memorial Hall, Golden Jubilee Exhibition: Fifty Years of British Art 1904-1954, mars-juin 1954, p. 9, No. 41. Penzance, Newlyn Art Gallery, Ithell Colquhoun: Retrospective Exhibition of Oil Paintings, octobre 1961, No. 2. Exeter, City Museum and Art Gallery, Ithell Colquhoun: Paintings, Collages and Drawings, septembre-octobre 1972, No. 14. Penzance, Newlyn Art Gallery, Ithell Colquhoun: Surrealism, Paintings, Drawings, Collages 1936-76, février-mars 1976, No. 21. Jérusalem, The Israel Museum, Dreaming with Open Eyes, The Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art in the Israel Museum, décembre 2000-juin 2001, p. 147, No. 133 (illustré en couleurs au catalogue d’exposition). Rome, Complesso Monumentale del Vittoriano, Dada e surrealismo riscoperti, octobre 2009-février 2010. Dulwich Picture Gallery, British Surrealism, February-May 2020

An aerial view of two adjoining  stone circles with out-lying monoliths, standing on a small island. One stone circle lies half in and half out of the water, whilst the other stands fully in the water. The painting was inspired by the stone circles on the islet of Er-Lannic. When built, the monuments stood on a little hillside, but are now half-hidden by the waters of the Gulf of Morbihan, Brittany. Archaeologists agree that this is due to a rise in sea level that has occurred since prehistoric times. Colquhoun offers an alternative suggestion: perhaps the daily immersion of this temple, dedicated to the powers of both sea and earth was intended by its builders.’ (Cornish Banner, June 1978).The title is a reference to the Prelude for piano by Claude Debussy. The piece is a musical depiction of a legendary cathedral, submerged and in ruins beneath the water, which mysteriously rises from the waves and into the sparkling light of day, then sinks again into the depths.Rocky Island (1969) is the reworked counterpart to part of this painting.

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Ithell Colquhoun
1906 - 1988

Ithell Colquhoun studied at Cheltenham Art School (1925’7) and
the Slade School of Fine Art (1927’31), winning joint first prize
with Elizabeth Leslie Arnold (1909′ 2005) in the 1929 Summer
Composition Competition. 

After discovering Surrealism in Paris in 1932, she held her first
solo exhibition at Cheltenham Art Gallery in 1936 and in 1939
joined the British Surrealist Group, showing alongside Roland
Penrose (1900’1984) at the Mayor Gallery that June. She was
particularly interested in automatic painting and how it could unlock
not just the unconscious mind but also the mystical. 

Despite her expulsion from the English Surrealist Group
in 1940 due to her increasing preoccupation with the occult,
Colquhoun remained active in Surrealist circles ‘ she was married to
Toni del Renzio from 1943’48. She wrote and illustrated numerous
books, including The Living Stones: Cornwall (1957), and exhibited
at the Leicester Galleries and with the LG and WIAC. She took part
in several Surrealist retrospectives in the 1970s, including a solo show
at the Newlyn Gallery in 1976, and the terms of her will bequeathed
her studio (over 3000 works) to the National Trust.