Lot 6
  • 6

Frederick Edward McWilliam, R.A.

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Frederick Edward McWilliam, R.A.
  • Eve
  • signed with initials and numbered 2/3
  • bronze
  • height: 190cm.; 74¾in.
  • Conceived in 1952 and cast in March 1956, the present work is number 2 from the edition of 3.


Acquired directly from the Artist by Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg, November 1956


London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, British Painting and Sculpture 1954, September - October 1954, cat. no.71;
Holland, Sonsbeek, International Open Air Sculpture Exhibition, 1955 (details untraced);
London, Hanover Gallery, F.E. McWilliam: Sculpture, February - March 1956, cat. no.2, illustrated;
Paris, Rodin Museum, Open Air Exhibition, 1956 (details untraced);
New York, Silberman Galleries, Contemporary British Art, 1956-57 (details untraced);
London, Zwemmer Gallery, Sculptures and Drawings, June 1957, cat. no.8;
Bristol, Royal West of England Academy, Painting and Sculpture: Robert Medley, Ruskin Spear, Philip Sutton, Keith Vaughan, F.E. McWilliam, May 1958 (details untraced);
Wakefield, Wakefield City Arty Gallery, Personal Choice 2, 4th May - 4th June 1961, cat. no.110;
Belfast, Ulster Museum, F.E. McWilliam, April - May 1981, cat. no.21, illustrated p.30, with Arts Council of Ireland tour to Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork and Orchard Gallery, Derry; 
London, Warwick Arts Trust, F.E. McWilliam: Early Sculptures 1935-48, With Some Recent Works, June 1982, cat. no.17, illustrated;
Paris, Centre d'art Plastique Contemporain, English Contrasts, Peintres et Sculpteurs Anglais 1950-1960, September - November 1984, un-numbered exhibition, illustrated (another cast);
London, Tate Gallery, F.E. McWilliam 1932-1989, May - July 1989, cat. no.37, illustrated;
Drogheda, The Highlanes Gallery, F.E. McWilliam at Banbridge, February - April 2009, un-numbered exhibition (another cast).


Albert Garrett, 'Review of the Zwemmer Exhibition', 8th June 1957;
The Times, 20th June 1957, illustrated (another cast);
Motif 3, September 1959, illustrated p.66;
Roland Penrose, McWilliam, Alec Tiranti Ltd, London, 1964, pp.8-9, illustrated no.32;
Roland Penrose et.al., McWilliam at Banbridge, F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, 2008, illustrated p.30;
Denise Ferran & Valerie Holman, The Sculpture of F.E. McWilliam, Lund Humphries in associtation with the Henry Moore Foundation, Farnham, 2012, cat. no.108, illustrated  pl.2, p.98 (another cast).


Structurally sound. There is minor surface dirt and traces of light surface matter, owning to the work once having been housed outside. There are minor signs of light oxidisation to the edge of the base, but this excepting the work appears in excellent overall condition. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present lot.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

'The brilliance of this exhibition is due to F.E. McWilliam's Eve…' 

(Albert Garrett's review of exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery, The Times, 1957).

During the early 1950s, McWilliam began to experiment with new techniques and Eve is one of his most successful large scale sculptures from the period to be constructed using an internal wire armature to provide support to the overall figure. As the biblical mother of humanity, her tall stature is subtly juxtaposed with the swollen lump of her belly indicative of fertility and of new life to come. The verticality of the statue provides an interesting contrast to his earlier Mother and Child of 1938 (Private Collection) where the focus is resolutely horizontal. Moreover, the elongated nature of Eve's face and hair possibly relate to Hindu and Buddhist forms the artist would have witnessed in India during his war service there with the RAF. Indeed, after the war, he always kept a copy in his studio of Raymond Burnier's photographs of the tenth and eleventh century Surasundari sculptures (celestial beings in the female form) from the Kandarija Tempe at Khajuraho.

When Eve was exhibited at the Hanover Gallery in 1956, McWilliam wrote to Henry Moore asking his opinion: 'there are only two things in this show I would pass, Man Erect 1 and Eve... Tell me frankly what you thought of it, just as you might tell Irina, Do not be afraid of hurting my feelings' (quoted in Ferran and Holman, op.cit, p.47). Despite extremely positive coverage from the art critics at the time, it is interesting that Moore's opinion was the most important to him and signals the central position Moore occupied following the War as the country's most pre-eminent sculptor as well as mentor to the younger generation of sculptors carving their careers in his footsteps.