Privately Held

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Medusa Grown Old, 1947

SKU: 9885

Oil on panel
21 ¬Ω x 15 ¬Ω in. (55 x 39.5 cm)


Height – 55cm x Width – 39.5cm


With the artist until 1971; Private Collection

Exhibited: Cathedral Church All Saints Derby, An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Marion Adnams, 27th October-5th November, no 75

In 1947, Marion Adnams ‚Äì the leading Surrealist in Derby ‚Äì borrowed a small African sculpture from the city’s museum for closer study.

‘One day I made a drawing of her, and, when it was finished, dropped it down on the floor by my chair. By chance, it landed on a drawing I had done the day before ‚Äì a drawing of an ancient English oak tree, with gnarled, twisting branches. They framed the head of the African figure, and there she was ‚Äì Medusa, with snakes for hair.’

Those snakes are the Gorgon’s most luridly distinctive attribute. But Adnams gave her new composite work a more unexpected title, Medusa Grown Old.

In classical myth, Medusa died young. A mortal, unlike her sister- Gorgons, she was beheaded by the youthful hero Perseus, heavily briefed by gods and fates. At her death, Medusa was heavily pregnant by the greatest sea god, Poseidon; sources differ as to her consent. The winged steed Pegasus sprang from his slain mother’s blood, and from Pegasus’ hoof-beat came in turn the Hippocrene spring ‚Äì vital source of all artistic inspiration.

Set apart from any such cyclical destiny, Adnams’ African Gorgon presides over barren rock and blasted bough, the stricken world of Modernism and its post-war legacy. Adnams kept the sculpture ‚Äì long after the picture was finished ‚Äì, but then returned ‚ÄúMedusa‚Äù after an attack of nocturnal panic. ‚ÄúAfter that I confined myself to shells and butterflies ‚Äì very beautiful and much safer.‚Äù

Commentary by Minoo Dinshaw, author of Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman (2016). He is currently investigating the workings of the god Mercury in seventeenth century England.

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Marion Adnams
1898 - 1995

Marion Adnams initially trained as a modern languages teacher; however, woodcuts she made while travelling in Europe during the 1920s received significant praise when she exhibited them at Derby Art Gallery, prompting her to re-train at Derby School of Art during the 1930s. She qualified as an art teacher in 1938 and in 1946 she became Head of Art at Derby Diocesan Training College.

From the late 1930s onwards, Adnams became known for her distinctive Surrealist paintings, and exhibited in local galleries and in London, including at the British Art Centre and the Modern Art Gallery Although she never formally joined any Surrealist societies, she made a significant contribution to the movement, particularly regarding female/male dichotomies within the group, which she explored extensively in her work. In 2017 she was the subject of a retrospective at Derby Art Gallery.

She wrote extensively, including an unpublished Autobiography.


SKU: 11296

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Standing Nude, red ink


SKU: 11699

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Corn Doll Cornucopia


SKU: 11698

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Corn Doll with Bird House and Flowers


SKU: 11682

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study two of a Variegated Thistle Leaf (Silybum marianum)


SKU: 11683

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of Flowers with Bow


SKU: 11686

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Design for a Nautical Mural, 1930’s


SKU: 11690

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Lavender Stump


SKU: 11693

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of a Baby Bird and a Rabbit


SKU: 11707

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of a Tree Trunk


SKU: 11696

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of flowers and vine


SKU: 11700

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Plus ça change


SKU: 11697

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Corn dolly with figure riding Turkey


SKU: 11702

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of a Rooster


SKU: 11705

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study of a Beetle


SKU: 11706

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Orange Sun


SKU: 11709

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

The Twins, 1956


SKU: 11711

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Bell Tower


SKU: 11713

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Full Length Nude


SKU: 11681

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Seven Colloquy (Parrots), 1967


SKU: 11714

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study for “Mr Prince’s Wagon – Storm”


SKU: 11715

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Stone with Holes


SKU: 11271

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Nature Princess


SKU: 11270

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

A Candle of Understanding in Thine Heart, 1964
SKU: 11269

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Witch and Bagpiper
SKU: 10420

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

A two part design for a Nautical Mural, 1930’s
SKU: 10257

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Seated nude, profile view, circa 1930


SKU: 10258

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Portrait of a girl seated three front quarter view, 1943


SKU: 10256

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Full length standing nude rear view


SKU: 10253

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Study One of a Variegated Thistle Leaf (Silybum marianum), 1930’s


SKU: 10255

Marion Adnams (1898 - 1995)

Seated nude, three quarter rear view, circa 1930