Mother and child with elephant (1)




Mother and child with elephant (1)

Date of Production

(circa) 1914 - 1922


graphite, pen and brown ink and brown wash on wove paper, laid down


Height: 44.5 cm
Width: 28.7 cm

Accession Number


Mode of Acquisition

Brigid Peppin, gift, 2016


The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © Estate of Helen Saunders


Not currently on display


Label Text

This drawing is one of two closely related studies of the same models; the other study, D.2016.XX.15, is also in The Courtauld's collection. The treatment of the figures in both drawings explores the tension between naturalism and an impulse to simplify and abstract.

It is uncertain when Saunders made this drawing. The wooden elephant the mother holds probably came from a toy factory established in 1914, but her dress and hairstyle appear to be of the late 1910s. If the drawing dates from Saunders’s Vorticist period (1914-15) it demonstrates that even at her most radical, she never entirely abandoned figuration. If the drawing was made later, it may foreshadow the path her work took after the First World War.


with the artist until her death in 1963; bequeathed to her sister, Ethel Saunders; bequeathed to her first cousin once removed, Helen Peppin, 1971; given to her daughter, Brigid Peppin, 1989; offered by her as a gift and part-purchase to the Samuel Courtauld Trust, 2016

Exhibition History

Drawings Gallery Display - Helen Saunders, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 14/10/2022-29/01/2023


Peppin, Brigid, and Cork, Richard, Helen Saunders (1885-1963), exh. cat., Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Graves Art Gallery ,Sheffield, 1996
Fig. p. p. 15
pp. 15, 48


Watermark: Watermark: none.

Inscription: none.

Collector's mark: none.

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