STEPHEN ROSE (1960 - )

The little yacht       

Oil on canvas 101.3 x 75.6cm; s. & d. 'Rose 13'

Reproduction Continental 20th century fluted architrave frame, painted finish

Overall framed size 118.7 x 94cm

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This is a striking image, which could be described as monumental if its power were not undercut by the playful subject. Fresh, contemporary and vivid, the model boat rides its waves of bubble wrap with insouciant grace and a whiff of satire – rather like Powerless Structures by Elmgreen and Dragset, on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. The latter is similarly an invocation on a grand scale of childhood at play, which cocks a snook at the statue of George IV on horseback on another of the plinths. Rose’s boat is less combative, but its presentation conjures up – only to deflate – the image of a real yacht cresting white billows against a rainswept sky. The technical problems of painting bubble wrap and the depiction of texture and light in the picture are surmounted with typical élan; this is a bold composition, which sails into the imagination on a wave of powerful nostalgia.

Biographical details

Stephen Rose was born in Rochford, Essex, in 1960. His career as an artist began when, aged 8, he saw a print of Caravaggio’s Conversion of St Paul. He was trained at the Medway College of Art (1979-80), Cheltenham College of Art (1980-83; BA Hons in Fine Art), the British School in Rome (1982), and the Royal Academy of Art (1983-86; Diploma in Fine Art). In 1992 he was elected Brother of the Art Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, London.

He has won various awards, including the British Institute Award, 1983; the Royal Academy Painting Prize, 1984; the Landseer Scholarship, 1985; the Richard Ford Travelling Scholarship, 1986 (when he studied at the Prado, Madrid); and the Royal Overseas League International Painting Competition Travelling Prize, 1987 (when he visited in northern India). He has exhibited at the ICA, the Mall Galleries, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the National Portrait Gallery (BP Portrait Competition); in 2001 he had his first one-man exhibition at Target, in Munich, Germany.

Publications: How to paint in oils, Winsor & Newton, 2008