Paul Cadmus (1904 - 1999)
Tony on the Roof, n.d.
Pencil on paper
12 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches (sight)
Signed at lower right: Cadmus
Titled and inscribed in the lower margin: 11 3/4 x 9 3/8 / Tony on the Roof
A confirmed student of the human form and a dedicated draftsman, Paul Cadmus rendered, with great beauty, the sensuality of the human figure. Telling of a commitment to academic training and a commitment to his own sexuality, his works are testaments not only of physical beauty but also of social understanding.
Raised within the artistic community of New York City, as the son of two professional artists, Cadmus was called to the medium at a young age. His art was illustrated in the New York Herald Tribune at the young age of fourteen. This first foray into the art world soon developed into committed study when Cadmus enrolled in the National Academy of Design in 1916 and the Art Students League in 1928, where he studied with Joseph Pennell.
In 1930, Cadmus sailed for Europe and was inspired by many life drawing classes and a growing appreciation for the French and Italian Masters. On her shores he found a freedom of expression and celebration of sexuality that came in strong contrast to the stifled naivete he had seen in America. This freedom is articulated in Jerry (1931, Private Collection), the first significant male nude that Cadmus created.
Set upon this new path of representation, Cadmus studied the works of Ingres and the Italian Renaissance Masters. For Cadmus, Ingres represented the celebration of eroticism and the ability to create, through exquisite detail and precision, works that teemed with subdued sexuality. Cadmusí devotion to Ingresí mode, prompted Henry McBride of The Sun, in March of 1945 to write:
Paul Cadmus is a modern Ingres. You neednít laugh at that. He certainly is the nearest thing to Ingres in this country at present. Where he differs from the Master is mostly in his choice of subject matter. The Master was at his best in doing intellectual man and ladies of social importance but Paul Cadmus concentrates more
Inspired by the works of the Italian Renaissance, Cadmus found, in these artists, an appreciation of the nude male form, and a straightforward yet evocative use of composition. Artists at this time sought the understanding of anatomy through academic drawing.
Cadmus drew upon these Italian Renaissance and French Academic ideals in his depictions of the male nude, and added a very poignant and personally relevant narrative.