- Head of a young man
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Frank Dobson (London, 1888-1963)
Head of a young man

51 cm high

Unique cast

Early 1920’s

- Private collection, USA

Dobson was active as sculptor, painter and designer. His few surviving paintings from before 1914 show the influence of French painters such as Paul Cézanne and he had begun to carve by 1914. In 1920 he was selected by Wyndham Lewis as the only sculptor in the ‘Group X' exhibition. His first post-war carvings exhibit an aggressive angularity, which suggests a conscious intention to adopt the Vorticist style of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Jacob Epstein. This was a short-lived phase, and from the mid-1920s Dobson was to concentrate on the naked female figure treated in a calm, simplified monumental fashion that shows an affinity with the work of Aristide Maillol.

The metal used for this cast, lead, is interesting. Dobson cast three sculptures in lead in 1919/1920; Kneeling Female Figure – Toilet, 25.4 cm high, Torso (Cedric Morris), size
unknown, and Two Heads, 27 cm high. Dobson met the painter Cedric Morris in Newlyn, Cornwall, in the late summer of 1919, and Morris assisted Dobson in the casting of some sculptures there, probably these three lead sculptures.

Casting in lead is much easier and cheaper than casting in bronze, and these were the likely reasons for the choice of material. Dobson moved from Newlyn, Cornwall, to a studio in London, 14 Trafalgar Studios, Manresa Road, Chelsea in 1919/20, where he met the dancer Rupert Doone, who made his living at that time as an artist’s model. Doone sat to the painter Edward Wadsworth in 1920, and there is a similarity between Doone and this young man, both sharing a narrow face, high forehead and brushed back hair. Head of a Youth, a lead cast, was exhibited at Dobson’s first Leicester Galleries exhibition in November 1921, (no.163), lent by the Earl of Lathom; are they one and the same?

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