Object: The jockey
This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.
To the best of Te Papa’s knowledge, under New Zealand law:
- there is no copyright or other intellectual property rights in this work in New Zealand; and
- the work may be copied and otherwise re-used in New Zealand without copyright or other intellectual property rights related restriction.
Te Papa will not be liable to you, on any legal basis (including negligence), for any loss or damage you suffer through your use of this material, except in those cases where the law does not allow us to exclude or limit our liability to you.
Wood, Christopher (artist), circa 1926-1927
|Medium summary||oil on canvas|
|Materials||oil paint, canvas|
x 463mm (Width)
Frame: 753mm (Height) x 635mm (Width) x 87mm (Depth)
|Credit line||Purchased 1972 with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund, London and with Lindsay Buick Bequest funds|
Christopher Wood left England in 1921 and spent almost the whole of his short artistic career in France. There he received his training as a painter through a brief attendance at the Parisian art schools, but more importantly through visiting the studios and assimilating the advice of the leading contemporary artists — Picasso and Jean Cocteau.
This is one of two known paintings of jockeys by Wood. Undated, it has previously been assigned the date of 1923. Its stylistic sophistication and assured handling of the medium, however, suggest a later date of c.1926–27. The thickly textured paint surface, treatment of facial features and emphasis on contour are similar to his works of 1926 such as Nude (private collection) and Jean Bourgoint with Siamese cat (Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge). Wood’s first recorded interest in the subject dates from October 1925, when he was in London at work on designs for a ballet that he hoped would interest Sergei Diaghilev as a production for the Ballets Russes. Encouraged by Picasso and Cocteau, both of whom had designed for Diaghilev, Wood’s ambition was to be the first English artist to do so. The ballet, called English country life, was to feature scenes at the race course, and Wood made drawings of jockeys to this end, but the project was abandoned due to lack of support from Diaghilev.
In composition and style The jockey shows the influence of Picasso’s single-figure neoclassical paintings of 1919–24. The jockey’s jacket may be seen as Wood’s version of the harlequin, saltimbanque and matador costumes of Picasso’s models. Wood was introduced to Picasso in 1923 and described him as ‘the greatest painter of the day’.1 In turn Picasso took an interest in the younger artist, unexpectedly visiting his studio and inviting Wood to visit him. Picasso gave Wood advice on painting techniques and suggested that he limit his palette to a few colours. The blue, grey, brown, black and white colour scheme, which became Wood’s signature palette, contributes significantly to The jockey’s elegantly austere beauty. Equally pertinent to the style of The jockey are the drawings of Cocteau, whose elegant linear style is recalled in Wood’s white calligraphic line, delineating the figure’s contour.
This essay appears in Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2009).
1. Christopher Wood, letter to his mother, 6 July 1923, Tate Gallery archive 773.3, cited in Virginia Button, Christopher Wood, St Ives Artists series, Tate Publishing, London, 2003, p. 24.
Find additional information about this object at these sites
- Google Art Project
Results from DigitalNZ
Searching 27 million digital objects from over 150 content partners across New Zealand
- Jockey Underwear - NZ On Screen
- Lucky Jockey - Radio New Zealand
- Unidentified jockey - Alexander Turnbull Library
- - Jockey underwear - Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.