Artwork by Cyril Power,  The Eight, 1930

Cyril Power
The Eight, 1930

signed, titled and numbered 49/50 twice
15.25 x 10.25 ins ( 38.7 x 26 cms ) ( sight )

Auction Estimate: $120,000.00$80,000.00 - $120,000.00

Price Realized $114,000.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

John Lecky, England/Calgary
Hodgins, auction, Calgary, 24 November 2015, lot 286
Private Collection, Calgary
In his fifties, Cyril Edward Power joined the faculty of the newly established Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London, where they employed new materials and techniques to challenge traditional processes of the time. Claude Flight encouraged Power, Sybil Andrews, Lill Tschudi, Dorrit Black, and their fellow students to adopt the linoleum cut. As a revolutionary and affordable printing technique, it allowed these artists to present modern subject matters, like a rowing team, in vivid colours and curvilinear forms.

Power would have been able to observe similar boat racing scenes along the River Thames from Hammersmith Bridge in London, near his studio, thus drawing inspiration for these iconic studies. In this composition, he isolates the single boat to showcase the speed and motion of the eight rowers, all working in tandem to propel themselves along the water. The interplay of curved lines and repeated shapes not only presents the human body as machine but also conveys, more broadly, the hectic pace of the modern era during the interwar years in Great Britain.

To illustrate the motion of the rowers, Power only used a select number of blocks, thus rejecting late nineteenth-century practices for coloured lithographs. He used chrome orange fairly heavily on the men and more faintly to delineate the oars. Yellow was used to depict the inside of the boat, while the artist captured the dappled light effects on the water’s surface using pale Prussian blue. In his linocuts, Power applied oil-based printing ink to Japanese paper since it allowed light to pass more easily through the different layers of ink, thus exploring notions of light and shadow. Interestingly, areas of unprinted white paper define the back of the rowers, which can be found in many of Power’s published edition.

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Cyril Power
(1874 - 1951)