William ‘Bill’ Brooker studied at Croydon School of Art, Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmiths College of Art. Between 1949 and 1965 he taught at a number of art schools including the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham. While teaching there Brooker lived in the town, working and recruiting notable artists of the British Post War period, including Terry Frost with whom he shared a house. Frost recalls how Brooker visited him at his studio in St Ives to ask him to join him at Corsham to teach. Frost’s recollections refer to Brooker in terms that reveal his appreciation of being admired by a fellow artist, who he obviously held in high regard.
Brooker also had a significant impact on the next generation of artist’s who he taught and influenced while at Corsham. About Brooker, Howard Hodgkin, would later recall “He was the only real teacher I ever had… he made one feel that painting was a very important occupation. Quite unique. No one else seemed a bit like that. He was a great teacher.”
Brooker taught at Corsham in the early years of the Bath Academy of Art. The colour palette and subject matter of this painting show the influence of post-impressionists such as Bonnard, but also Walter Sickert, who spent the last years of his life living near Bath and gave guest lectures at the Bath School of Art.
The studio interior depicted is that at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, where a model has been posing for a life drawing class. Hodgkin also describes how Brooker would arrange for them to draw a model on a bed against a backdrop of fabric and wallpaper. The chaise in this painting can also be seen in this photograph of the painting studio, from the Ellis Family Archive held at the Bath Record Office.
The painting’s alternative title, Model Resting, suggests the reclining nude has just finished a session of modelling. Brooker chooses to focus on the psychology of the model, not in her formal pose but in a relaxed position after the class. The painting balances traditional figurative painting with moments of abstraction, with its flat areas of colour created by the textiles and furniture in the studio.
Purchased with the support of Art Fund, Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and HLF Creative Wiltshire Project