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Euan Uglow (10 March 1932 – 31 August 2000) was an English figurative painter.

Early life and education

Uglow was born in London and went to Strand School before studying at Camberwell College of Arts from 1948 to 1950 under William Coldstream, who influenced Uglow greatly. When Coldstream left to teach at the Slade School of Art, University College London (University of London) in 1951, Uglow transferred there as well. In 1954, as a conscientious objector, he began two years in building work and farming. Starting in 1961, he himself was to teach part-time at the Slade School, continuing for many years.


Uglow is best known as a painter of the figure, particularly of female nudes, as well as portraits, still lifes and landscapes. His ostensibly simple compositions usually consist of a single figure in a setting emptied of extraneous detail; a typical still life may feature a single piece of fruit on a plain tabletop.

With a meticulous method of painting directly from life, Uglow frequently took months or years to complete a painting. Planes are articulated very precisely, edges are sharply defined, and colours are differentiated with great subtlety. His type of realism has its basis in geometry, starting with the proportion of the canvas. Uglow preferred that the canvas be a square, a golden rectangle, or a rectangle of exact root value, as is the case with the Root Five Nude (1976).[1] He then carried out careful measurements at every stage of painting, a method Coldstream had imparted to him and which is identified with the painters of the Euston Road School. Standing before the subject to be painted, Uglow registered measurements by means of a metal instrument of his own design (derived from a modified music stand); with one eye closed and with the arm of the instrument against his cheek, keeping the calibrations at a constant distance from the eye, the artist could take the measure of an object or interval to compare against other objects or intervals he saw before him. Such empirical measurements enable an artist to paint what the eye sees without the use of conventional perspective. The surfaces of Uglow's paintings carry many small horizontal and vertical markings, where he recorded these coordinates so that they could be verified against reality.

Uglow's principal concern was to render nature in art and he always saw this system of measurement as a means to an end; his work in fact arises out of deep emotions. Colour was fundamental to his understanding, and painters such as Matisse and the Venetians influenced him all his artistic life along with many others, although perhaps Cézanne, Poussin and Ingres were closest to his heart. Uglow described to an interviewer the inspiration for his still life Lemon (1973):

    I'll tell you what Lemon is about ... It's the dome at Volterra that Brunelleschi was supposed to have helped with. It's most beautiful, very simple, very lovely. I couldn't paint the dome there, so when I came back I thought I'd try to paint it from a lemon.[1]

Zagi (1981–82), which depicts a standing nude, was inspired by a children's toy of an acrobat, with the word Zagi itself being Chinese for acrobat.[2]

In 1972 he won the John Moores Painting Prize[3] In 1982 Uglow was invited by Stass Paraskos to spend time at the Cyprus College of Art, which resulted in a number of landscapes with Cypriot colours and themes.

Euan Uglow died in South London on August 31, 2000.


Uglow's works are in numerous public collections, including:

    * The Arts Council of Great Britain
    * The British Museum, London
    * The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    * The Tate Gallery, London

His admirers include David Sylvester, Paul Smith and Cherie Blair.[4] In the days after Uglow's death, his unfinished picture entitled 'Striding Nude, Blue Dress' became notorious in the British press when the identity of the female sitter was revealed to be Cherie Blair, the wife of the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. She had posed for the painting while a student in the late 1970s.[5] Among the many artist who have learned from him is John Long.[6]

In 2003, Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal mounted the first major exhibition of Euan Uglow's paintings since his death in 2000. Approximately fifty paintings, from every decade of Uglow's career, were shown, including portraits, nudes and still-lifes, as well as a group of Christmas cards made by the artist for his friends and family.


   1. ^ a b Lambirth 1993
   2. ^ Life: The Observer Magazine - A celebration of 500 years of British Art - 19th March 2000
   3. ^ John Moores Prize
   4. ^ University of the Arts
   5. ^
   6. ^ “John Long,” Royal Hibernian Academy


    * Lampert, Catherine Euan Uglow: The complete paintings: Catalogue raisonné. Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-300-12349-4.
    * Forge, Andrew, Euan Uglow, paintings and drawings, exhibition catalogue, Salander O'Reilly Galleries, New York, 1993.
    * Lambirth, Andrew, "A State of Emergency", Modern Painters, Summer 1993.
    * Wilcox, Tim, et al. (1990). The Pursuit of the Real: British figurative painting from Sickert to Bacon. London: Lund Humphries. ISBN 0-85331-571-X


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