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George Michael Moser RA, Life drawing of a male nude

Life drawing of a male nude, ca. 1745-50?

George Michael Moser RA (1706 - 1783)

RA Collection: Art

A life drawing in red chalk, showing a seated male nude with his right hand on his head and his right foot resting on a raised surface.

Born in Switzerland, George Moser arrived in London in 1726 and worked as a chaser and enameller. In partnership with a German artist named John Valentine Haidt, he ran a life class at Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. Throughout his career, Moser retained an active interest in the practice and teaching of life drawing but surprisingly few examples of his work in this genre survive.

By the 1740s, Moser was closely involved with the St Martin's Lane Academy. George Vertue, writing in 1745, recalled that, 'amongst the best Mr Moser the Chaser has distinguisht him self by his skill in drawing in ye Academy from the life this Winter' (Vertue III, p. 123). Vertue also described Moser as one of the ‘principal Directors’ at St Martin's Lane in 1746 (Vertue, Note books, 6.171). As Richard Edgcumbe points out, 'from the time of his [Moser's] entry into the select group of managers of the St Martin's Lane Academy until his appointment as first keeper of the Royal Academy, Moser was never far from the centre of the artists' attempts to promote instruction and exhibitions'. Along with his next-door neighbour, Francis Hayman, Moser was part of the committee that published 'A Plan of an Academy' in 1755 and in 1765 he was one of the Directors of the Incorporated Society of Artists. A few years later he was instrumental in the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts and became the new institution's first Keeper in 1769, overseeing the activities of the Academy Schools. In Zoffany's painting The Academicians of the Royal Academy (1771-72; Royal Collection) Moser is depicted placing the model. Sir Joshua Reynolds's obituary for Moser paid tribute to the latter's achievements as ‘the FATHER of the present race of Artists’, because of his teaching in the academies of London for fifty years (see The Literary Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2nd edn, 1798, I, xlvii–xlviii).

Given Moser's constant involvement with the life class, this drawing is hard to date. However, the general style suggests that it is earlier rather than later in his career and Postle and Bignamini propose a date of ca. 1745-50 to coincide with Moser's period of activity at St Martin's Lane (Ilaria Bignamini and Martin Postle, The Artist's Model: From Lely to Etty, exh. cat., Nottingham, 1991, cat. 46, p. 69).

Object details

Life drawing of a male nude
ca. 1745-50?
Object type
Red chalk on buff laid paper

576 mm x 387 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
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