The Dead Girl
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated ‘Cant ‘53’ upper right, inscribed with title in pencil on reverse
49.5 x 39 cm
The artist, 1953-?; private collection, ?-2007; Bonhams and Goodman, Sydney, 2007; private collection of Jim Berry and Stephen Scheding, Sydney, and gifted by them to National Gallery of Victoria.
A.I.A Gallery, Lisle Street, London, 1955; ‘James Cant Retrospective’, 1984, Art Gallery of South Australia, catalogue no. 20 (label verso with a note that the painting was ‘Based on a photograph of a murdered girl in the newspaper); Deutscher Fine Art, November 1988, catalogue 63, illustrated in colour; Niagara Gallery, Melbourne, 1993, catalogue no. 15.
James Cant with an introduction by Elizabeth Young, A Brolga Book, 1970, plate 14. The Australian, ‘Weekend Review, 27-28 March, 1993, review by Robert Rooney of Cant’s exhibition at Niagara Gallery: ‘Then there’s The Dead Girl (1953), a rather strange portrait based on a newspaper photograph of a murder victim in which the highlights on the girl’s cheeks almost match the twin peaks of her collar’.
According to Rod Radford in the James Cant Retrospective catalogue, the artist used ‘a photograph of a murdered girl in the newspaper’ as the model for this portrait. The painting probably relates to the case of what became known as ‘the Teddington Towpath murders. The case involved the murder of two teenage girls on the towpath near Teddington Lock on the River Thames, England, on 31 May 1953. The case garnered a great deal of press attention.