David Bomberg, English, 1890 - 1957


Charcoal with erasing and conte crayon on laid paper

Sheet: 18 1/2 x 22 7/16 inches (47 x 57 cm)

© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New york / DACS, London

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund and the Fiske Kimball Fund, 1981

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The soft, dusty passages of charcoal are reinforced by touches of black crayon in some of the darkest lines of this drawing. The presence of the artist's hand can be sensed in the areas where he pressed his finger into a pliable eraser and removed charcoal to create highlights.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Although he received a diploma in traditional life drawing from London's Slade School in 1912, David Bomberg was at this point already working independently in a simplified and extraordinarily dynamic abstract style, in part inspired by Cubism and Italian Futurism. By the following year Bomberg's abstract compositions of figures, derived from the steel forms of the modern city and from the heightened gestures that he saw in Jewish theatrical performances in London, had established his reputation as a leader of the English avant-garde. Acrobats is a daring and forceful example of Bomberg's early drawing style. The huge cubed figures, resembling angular metal robots, are packed to bursting from the top to the bottom of the sheet. Over the gyrating bodies heavy charcoal lines form a dynamic web, lending their movements greater emphasis and direction. This major example of early British modernism has broader significance when viewed alongside the Museum's distinguished collection of French drawings of the early twentieth century. Innis Howe Shoemaker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 235.