Spring Exhibition - 40 Years OnSpring Exhibition - 40 Years On

Spring Exhibition - 40 Years On

John Bratby


Red Boots

Painter, novelist and teacher. Born in London, Bratby studied at the Kingston College of Art (1948-50) and later at the Royal College of Art (1951-4), where he was awarded a bursary to travel in Italy. On graduating from the Royal College of Art, he rose to instant fame with his unadulterated view of ordinary domestic life and was soon regarded as the leading light of what came to be known as the "Kitchen Sink Painters' (including Jack Smith, Edward Middleditch and Derrick Greaves)

His first solo exhibition was held at the Beaux Art Gallery in 1954, where he exhibited regularly and in 1956 he was chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale.

Bratby taught for two brief periods, first at Carlisle College of Art (1956) and then at the Royal College of Art in London (1957-8). In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery held a retrospective. He exhibited with the Mayor Gallery, the Albemarle Gallery and the Catto Gallery and was elected RA in 1971.

His interest and concern with social realism and his use of a bright colourful palette set him apart from his peers, who shared his desire to depict the banality of a working-class life. A highly skilled draughtsman, Bratby used the everyday and whatever he found around him for his subject matter and his scenes of pinched domesticity had a huge impact on the public. His passion for the plastic qualities of paint and achieving expressionistic impasto effects linked him with artists such as Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff.

His work is held in many prestigious public and private collections throughout the world.

oil on board75 x 76 cm (30 x 30 ins)
Framed size: 93 x 94 cm (37 x 37 ins)

painted circa 1954


Collection of Ronald Neame 1959 - 2004
Sothebys, Bond Street, November 2004
Private Collection 2005 - 2016


London, Beaux Arts Gallery 1954, John Bratby cat no 15
London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, 1955, cat no 528

Gallery Notes:

Red Boots endorses the “kitchen sink” ethos that anything could be the subject of a painting.  The table top is apparently littered with everyday objects, although Bratby did admit that the series of works was "absolutely contrived and artificially set up”. In 1958, Ronald Neame directed The Horses Mouth, a film written by and co-starring Alec Guinness as a struggling artist.  As well as painting the artwork for the film, Bratby also assisted the actors during the film production.  In 1959, Neame purchased this painting from the Beaux Arts Gallery for his own private collection.

 Maurice Yacowar, The Great Bratby, Middlesex University Press 2008, Page 30