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John Bratby trained at the Royal College of Art in the early 1950s, where he was taught by Carel Weight. Upon graduating, Bratby found fame as the leading member of a group of painters who represented the gritty realities of post-war working-class British life. The press dubbed them the 'kitchen sink school', and Bratby became a household name. Like members of the School of London, such as Francis Bacon, Bratby developed a reputation for hard living: he drank heavily and lived an unconventional life by the standards of the 1950s. He had a tempestuous marriage to Jean Cooke, a fellow painter who is pictured here clambering on a ladder in a disorderly kitchen. Bratby’s work fell quickly out of fashion in the 1960s when enthusiasm for American consumer culture spawned pop art, and Britain attempted to shed the burden of austerity by cultivating an image of Swinging London.


Jean on a Step-Ladder in the Kitchen




oil on masonite


H 119.4 x W 132.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift of Robert P. Bunkin and Florence Exler in memory of Leon K. Baum

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