John Buckland Wright loved the naked human body, learning assiduously through thousands of life studies how to capture its shapes, outlines and interactions. Whenever he was commissioned to produce illustrations including naked bodies, he drew from life, and always worked hard to bring out the character of the models he worked with. Most of all he liked his models relaxed, natural, innocent.
As well as the illustrations produced for specific projects and the sketches and drawings associated with them, John produced hundreds of small pencil and crayon drawings, many little more than doodles, which he produced for his own amusement and that of a close circle of friends. They were little known about until after his death, and even then the explicit content of much of his previously unseen archive was a delicate subject for Wolseley Fine Arts, the gallery dealing with the sale of much of his estate – as late as 2005 Rupert Otten wrote ‘The erotic works are not well known and are rarely seen; they do not form a significant part of the artist’s output but nevertheless need to be recognised in a survey of his depiction of the nude’.
We believe they were a very important part of the artist’s output, as was well recognised by his closest circle, including his wife and best friend Mary. They show John Buckland Wright to be an artist fascinated by the world and the way that people interact in it, especially intimately, and are full of humour and humanity.