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Leonard McComb Remembered at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019

As visitors to the 2019 Summer Exhibition climb the stairs to the entrance, they are greeted by Leonard McComb’s Portrait of a Young Man Standing. At six feet tall, the figure was modelled from one of his students in the 1960s and made of polished bronze.

Along with three other paintings in the show, Portrait of a Young Man Standing is displayed at the Summer Exhibition this year to celebrate the life and career of the late artist Leonard McComb, who passed away in June 2018. It is traditional for Royal Academicians to be displayed in the Summer Exhibition in the year following their passing; McComb was made a Royal Academician in 1987, and from 1995-98 served as Keeper of the Royal Academy, placing him in charge of the Royal Academy Schools.

Portrait of a Young Man Standing is one of three in the small edition: one belongs to the Tate Collection, one to the Art Council and one remains with the artist’s family. The Tate version of the sculpture caused national controversy in 1990 when it was withdrawn from display in Lincoln Cathedral as the then dean of the cathedral, who considered the work indecent, asked that the figure be covered in a loin cloth and moved to the nave. McComb objected to this move and withdrew the sculpture altogether. The Tate offered to buy the work for their collection after its removal in an acquisition personally negotiated by Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate at the time.

Waterhouse & Dodd are delighted to represent the Leonard McComb estate and plan to mount a retrospective in the coming year.