The most significant part of the University College London Art Museum consists of work by students and staff of the Slade School of Fine Art. The Slade was founded in 1871 with the aim of providing progressive art training based on the system of education in the French Academy with its emphasis on intensive study from the life model. From its earliest years the Slade awarded annual prizes for painting in categories such as figure painting, head painting and painting from antique casts. With the appointment of Frederick Brown as Slade Professor in 1892 a new painting prize, the Summer Composition Prize, was introduced. Students were given a set title (such as ‘Bathers’ or ‘The Play Scene from Hamlet’) and expected to produce a large-scale multi-figure work over the summer vacation which would be judged publicly at the beginning of the autumn term. From 1897 a new attitude to collecting student work also emerged, standard sizes were set for the works and the Summer Composition Prize and the Figure and Head Painting Prizes began to be kept by the school.
Under the leadership of Fred Brown (ably supported by the artists Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer), the Slade School of Art flourished during the Edwardian Era and was by 1910 widely regarded as the centre of progressive art education in England. Famous graduates included Augustus and Gwen John, William Orpen and Edna Clarke-Hall. Towards the end of the decade, a new generation of Slade-trained artists emerged, including Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Chirstopher Nevinson, Paul Nash and Dora Carrington. Many of the school’s prize-winners were, however, enjoyed rather less successful careers. As such, the UCL Museum contains a wealth of interesting Edwardian paintings, a small selection of which are listed below.
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