top of page

Veronica Burleigh

(Hove, Sussex 1909-1998 Blackstone, Sussex)

Sketch of a Dancer, c.1930s

oil on canvas

inscribed verso ‘VERONICA BURLEIGH’

46 x 36 cm.

The bold impasto and quick brush-strokes of wet-in-wet paint are used to bravura effect here. The dancer’s unfinished hands serve to heighten the sense of movement in this confident sketch.

It has been painted on a canvas that the artist used in a life-class, for on the reverse side is a nude of a man, wearing a leather thong over his groin - as was common at the time when women were in the room. Burleigh’s contrasting use of orange and teal has a particularly ‘deco’ flavour, and the style of the dancer’s dress and hair suggests a date in the 1930s -  presumably not long after Veronica had left the Slade, where she would have had ready access to life classes and models.

Veronica Burleigh came from a celebrated artistic family: both her father and mother were artists who lived most of their lives in Sussex, having met at Brighton School of Art. Veronica’s father, Charles Henry Harrison Burleigh (1869 – 1956), had also studied in Paris, under Jacques-Emile Blanche, and his light touch and colouring clearly influenced his daughter’s work. Meanwhile, her mother Averil Mary Burleigh, née Dell (1883 – 1949), specialised in tempera and had a clear, graphic style that undoubtedly informed Veronica’s own sense of shape and structure.

Like her parents, she graduated from Brighton and then went on with their encouragement to the Slade, 1927-1930, under the tutelage of Henry Tonks. As a fully-fledged artist she exhibited at the RA, SWA, Sussex Women’s Art Club and with the Sussex Painters, at Worthing, where the public gallery holds her work. During World War II she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, but her bread-and-butter trade was portraits. Landscapes such as this were rarer, painted for the artist’s own pleasure. In 1952, three years after her mother Averil’s death, Hove Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition of works by all three of the Burleighs.

bottom of page