Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)
Although Morris studied in a number of academies in Paris at this date, his main source of inspiration was found the surrounding cafés and restaurants where he would sit and study people as they interacted...
This energetic study of a café interior was undertaken by Cedric Morris in 1921 when he was living in Paris with his partner Arthur Lett-Haines.
Morris and Lett-Haines (known as ‘Lett’) moved to Paris from Newlyn in late 1920 and took up residence in one of the abandoned drawing rooms at the Académie Delécluse in Montparnasse. Paris at this date was an artistic epicentre where groups of young avant-garde artists would meet and exchange ideas. The atmosphere was more relaxed and liberal than in places like London and homosexuality was legal.
Although Morris studied in a number of academies in Paris at this date, his main source of inspiration was found the surrounding cafés and restaurants where he would sit and study people as they interacted. Morris would record his observations in a sketchbook and would sometimes use these sketches back in the studio as inspiration when enlarging his subject onto canvas or board in oils. Morris made numerous studies of café interiors at this date although his most accomplished is Café Rotonde, Paris [Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury] which was painted in 1921, the same year as this work. In both works Morris takes a distanced viewpoint - he does not engage with his subject, instead he looks on from afar.
Considering Morris’s evident interest in this medium, it is surprising that after he left Paris in 1925 he never returned to working with pencil on paper, and instead focussed his attention exclusively on oils on canvas. These early works on paper, therefore, are a rare and largely underappreciated part of Morris oeuvre and provide a fascinating glimpse into his capabilities as a draughtsman during a period of great personal and artistic development.