Artist Robert Baker: The Gym Lesson

Artist Robert Baker (1909-1992): The Gym Lesson

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 Private collection

Robert Baker (1909-1992):
The Gym Lesson
Framed (ref: 9597)
Oil on board 

48 x 60 in. (122 x 152.5 cm.)

See all works by Robert Baker tempera sport Sporting Greats

Literature:W. Rothenstein, Since Fifty p.299.

Following on from the success of the Morley College Murals, painted by Charles Mahoney, Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious,  Rothenstein kept looking for opportunities for ​ ​his Royal College of Art students to repeat this triumph. In 1930 Robert Baker,(RCA 1929-1932), and Edward Payne, (RCA 1924) were offered the village hall at Woodgreen in Hampshire, to decorate and paint scenes of ​ ​local  daily life. This project, funded by a Liberal politician Vaughan Nash, was ​ ​in line with ideas of the special value of rural life at the time. 

Baker was subsequently given another commission in the early 1930's, instigated by the powerful political insider Thomas Jones, to paint murals at the Welsh working men’s college, Coleg Harlech, a Workers Educational Association, the largest provider of adult community learning in Wales. The college was  built for George Davison, who was the English agent for Kodak, by his favourite architect George Walton (of Glasgow). It is a rugged form of classicism with fantastic views over Harlech bay.

The murals, produced in situ in the dining hall, consisted of portraits of Welsh 'types' painted on piers projecting into the room, between which Baker created  two landscape panoramas. The scheme, (which included a bard called Carneddau who lived at the top of a mountain that Baker had to climb in order to visit him) is  referenced to  in W. Rothenstein, Since Fifty p.299.