Charcoal on Paper
68 x 68 cm
On reverse signed “Mark Gertler Rudall Crescent, Hampstead NW3” (artist’s address)
Ballet Dancers was a charcoal study for an oil painting with the same title in 1918.
Executed in 1918, Roger Fry bought this drawing from the 1919 London Group Exhibition where it was exhibited together with the painting – described by the Sunday Times at the time as one of the most important exhibits.
1918 was the year when Gertler also finished “The Acrobats” Gertler’s first piece of sculpture and the first figure composition with upright figures. The painting entitled Bathers followed where he built a composition of divers in mid-air in the same pose as one of his acrobats – achieving a continuous rhythm.
Figure compositions recording movements dominated his works between 1917-1919 – such as the Boxers and Ballet Dancers, Harlequinade. Roger Fry and Gertler became closer after a cool start and by 1918 they were friends. They were united in their admiration of Cezanne, years after the first Post Impressionist Exhibition in London in 1910 (organized by Roger Fry). In the autumn of 1917 Roger Fry invited Gertler to exhibit at the Mansard Gallery at a show of modern art.