Jerwood Foundation

John Bratby RA (1928-1992)

Holyland, 1961

  • Details

    (c) Julian Hartnoll. All Rights Reserved 2013/Bridgeman Art Library

    signed, inscribed and dated ‘”Holyland” / John Bratby / August 61.’ (lower left)

  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    28 x 40½ in. (71.1 x 102.9 cm.)

  • Provenance

    Purchased by a private collector from the 1962 Royal Academy exhibition, sold to the Paisnel Gallery in 2008.
    Paisnel Gallery, London where purchased at the November 2009 exhibition.

  • Exhibited

    London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, May – August 1962, no. 369.
    London, Paisnel Gallery, Post-War and St Ives, November 2009, no. 15.

  • Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Post-War and St Ives, London, Paisnel Gallery, no. 15, illustrated.
    Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.30. Illustrated p.22.

In the 1950s Bratby was the leader of the so-called 'Kitchen Sink' painters. The term ‘kitchen sink’ was originally coined by the critic, David Sylvester, in 1954, when he wrote that the work of Bratby and others, 'takes us back from the studio to the kitchen' and described their subjects as, 'an inventory which includes every kind of food and drink, every utensil and implement, the usual plain furniture and even the babies nappies on the line. Everything but the kitchen sink? The kitchen sink too'.

In the present work Bratby’s interest in British post-war life is apparent as the arrangement of exotic fruit reminds us of a time when the opportunity to purchase imported goods was a relatively new experience for many people.

Find out more about Holyland in the Stories Behind the Collection series of short films, available on the Jerwood Gallery channel.

Born in Wimbledon, London, Bratby studied at Kingston School of Art, London (1948-50) and the Royal College of Art, London (1951-54) where he met and married fellow student, Jean Cooke in 1953. The following year Bratby’s first solo exhibition was held at the Beaux Arts Gallery and it was through this gallery Bratby became associated with fellow artists, Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith. All four ‘Kitchen Sink’ artists (sometimes known as the Beaux Arts Quartet) were chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1956.

During the 1960s Bratby published four novels: Breakdown (1960); Breakfast and Elevenses (1961); Break-Pedal Down (1962); and Break 50 Kill (1963). He held teaching posts at Carlisle College of Art (1956) and the Royal College of Art (1957-58) and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. He was elected ARA in 1959 and RA in 1971. Major exhibitions of his work include National Portrait Gallery, London (1991) and Catto Gallery, London (1997). In 1979 Bratby settled in Hastings with his second wife, Patti Prime, where he lived until his death in 1992.