Men in Pants Exhibition

Men in Pants: Evelyn De Morgan's male life drawings from the Slade School onwards


Evelyn De Morgan (née Pickering, 1855-1919) was a successful and prolific artist. She displayed a flair for and devotion to art from an early age. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday she wrote: ‘At work a little after 7… 17 today, that is to say seventeen years wasted in eating, dawdling and flittering time away… Art is eternal, but life is short… I have not a moment to lose’. In the same year Evelyn drew a study of the male nude from a wooden model, shocking her drawing teacher, who had been employed to instruct her in copying fruit and flowers.

In 1873, Evelyn enrolled at the Slade School of Art (which had opened two years earlier) where she was able to develop her interest in drawing the human body. The Slade was the first school in Britain to offer female students the opportunity to attend classes in life drawing alongside the traditional practice of drawing from classical sculptures.  While the male life models were partially covered to make the classes acceptable to female students, this remained a bold innovation in art training, attracting much criticism. 'There are many prejudices to be overcome', declared the Slade's first Professor of Art, Edward Poynter, regarding the opportunities available to female artists.

By examining Evelyn’s time at the Slade School and how this shaped the expressive qualities of her painting, this exhibition looks at the artist’s male figure drawings. Whether preliminary sketches or highly finished images, Evelyn’s drawings reveal a skilful handling of line and shading as well as the artist's direct engagement with her models.  As Walter Shaw Sparrow wrote in 1900: ‘she has produced in black and white many studies so excellent that they could not well be bettered’.

The Men in Pants exhibition runs from 7th February - 28th June. Click through below to discover what the exhibition contains.

                                                                                                                           The Slade School >>