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A Roland for an Oliver / Joie de Vivre (1910)

Eric Rowton Gill

Hoptonwood stone with added colour - gilded necklace, red lips and nipples

University of Hull Art Collection

A Roland for an Oliver / Joie de Vivre (1910)

Photo credit: University of Hull Art Collection



Sculpture, Relief


Hoptonwood Stone

Physical Object Description:

Inscribed: O PALE GALILEAN. BUT THESE / THOU SHALT NOT TAKE: THE LAUREL / THE PALM & THE PAEN THE / BREASTS OF THE NYMPHS IN THE BRAKE (text from Swineburne's poem 'Hymn to Prosperine') and with a symbol of an eye in a hand, on back


94.6 x 68 x 13.3 cm


Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1976

Ownership history:

Purchased from the Chenil Gallery by Roger Fry (1866-1934) and Robert Ross (1869-1918) for the Contemporary Art Society (as 'Two Bas-Reliefs'; with Crucifixion; presented to Tate, 1920), 1911; presented to the University of Hull Art Collection, 1976
In 1910 Eric Gill made a pair of carved bas-reliefs. The Crucifixion and A Roland for an Oliver were exhibited at the Chenil Gallery, London in January 1911 and they were both acquired by Robert Ross and Roger Fry for the new Contemporary Art Society, which they had co-founded and were on its Executive Committee. The Crucifixion is incised on the back with the symbol of an eye on a hand; on the front, to left and right of the upright of the cross, in Greek from the biblical gospel of Matthew 19 : 12; and on the upright itself is a Latin inscription from the biblical Psalm 146 : 10. A Roland for an Oliver - a phrase that means tit for tat, an evenly matched contest - referring to its pair of a naked male (Christ) - depicts a nude woman and bears an inscription from Swinburne's Hymn to Proserpine, lines 35 and 23–4. Gill's working title for them were 'Schmerz' (agony) and 'Joie' (ecstasy). It has been said that one is a symbol of renunciation and the other a symbol of acceptance. The Crucifixion (1910) was accepted by the Tate Gallery in 1920 but A Roland for an Oliver (1910) was not accepted for presentation by the CAS until 1976 when University of Hull Art Collection took it on.

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