Bratby, John: Cactus in a Pot


John Bratby painted a series of cacti paintings in Carlisle in 1956 including ‘Pipe and Cactus’, ‘Flower Pots in the Greenhouse’ and ‘Cacti’. ‘Cactus in a Pot’ follows this theme and is a strong oil on canvas which reflects Bratby’s highly distinctive style. Unsigned but authenticated as a work by John Bratby, it bears a numbered gallery label to the rear stating ‘Bratby’ and the stretcher to the frame is marked ‘Beaux Art’, the gallery where Bratby exhibited regularly from 1954. The painting is in very good original condition with no repairs or restoration and is presented in its original frame.

The previous owner visited John Bratby’s studio and was given this painting as a gift.

More images can be provided on request.

Artist: John Randall Bratby, (1928-1992)

Title and date: Cactus in a Pot, 1956

Size: 40 x 34 cms.


Artist description:

A painter born in Wimbledon, he studied at Kingston Art School from 1949 to 1950 and the RCA from 1951 to 1954. He held his first solo exhibition in 1954 at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London where he exhibited regularly, and 2 years later his work was included in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; while living in south London Bratby showed with the Blackheath Art Society. In 1957 he won first prize in the Junior Section of the prestigious John Moores Liverpool Exhibition.

Known as a ‘Kitchen Sink’ artist in the 1950s, he turned temporarily to novel writing when the ascendancy of abstract art put his forceful realism out of fashion. He also designed sets for the film ‘The Horse’s Mouth’. In 1964 Bratby held a solo exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery and another followed in 1966. In 1971 he held a retrospective show at South London Art Gallery and in 1985 he held a solo exhibition at the Phoenix Gallery, Lavenham. He was elected an Associate of the RA 1959, and RA in 1971.

He painted cityscapes on trips abroad in the 1980s but concentrated on self-portraits and portraits of his second wife in intimate poses and with bright colours and an economy of line. His work was reproduced in books by publishing houses that included the Folio Society and Hutchinson.

Examples of his work are represented in Bolton Art Gallery, Falmouth Art Gallery, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, the Jerwood Foundation, Leicestershire County Council, the Museum of Modern Art, NPG, New York, Tate Gallery and the V&A.