Bridget Riley

Colour studies for Entice No 1, No 2, No 3

Gouache: 27.5(h) x 13.9(w) in /

69.8(h) x 35.2(w) cm

Each signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right: Colour Study for Entice No 1 / No 2 / No.3 / Bridget Riley ‘74

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SP 5529



Born London 1931


Colour studies for Entice No 1, No 2, No 3


Each signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right: Colour Study for Entice No 1 / No 2 / No 3 /

Bridget Riley ‘74

Gouache: 27 ½ x 13 ⅞ in / 69.8 x 35.2 cm

Frame size: 35 ¾ x 21 ½ in / 90.8 x 54.6 cm



Juda Rowan Gallery, London

Mr & Mrs David Kangesser, USA, acquired from the above in 1975, then by descent



In the late 1960’s there was a discovery in visual neurobiology that showed how many of the ‘cells in both the primary visual receiving centre and some other areas of the brain are selectively responsive to lines of a given orientation’.[1] This discovery led to many physiologists believing that ‘these so-called “orientation selective cells” are the “physiological building blocks” of form’ and where orientated lines are created through colour and form, a strong visual stimulant can engage these orientation selective cells in the brain.[2] Colour studies for Entice No 1, No 2, No 3 is an example of how effective the perpetual orientation of a vertical line can be in the creation of a powerful and stimulating composition. The uniform precision of Riley’s decisive design and immaculate finish enables the uninterrupted interaction of colours to enhance the fleeting visual sensations they create, whilst producing a simple means of colour exploration.


Riley herself describes the strong bands of colour she created after the 1960’s as a way in which she could explore the edge of the narrow line, and in particular how it ‘lends itself very well to colour interaction, and steep angles which introduce movement and help to build up tension’ in the distinct pattern of the composition.[3] The tapered lines in Colour studies for Entice No 1, No 2, No 3 appear very clean in their sequenced colouring and as the paint stretches vertically down the paper, a precise pattern is created through their repetition. The clean-cut structure that Riley uses, highlights the primary preparatory function of this triptych of slightly varying and alternating patterns, as colour studies to be used for later paintings. 

In the same year that Colour studies for Entice No 1, No 2, No 3 were produced, Riley also created Entice 2. Entice 2 possesses the same ribbons of pink, blue and green, backed with a pale grey and white, however, Riley dramatically curved the lines of colour vertically, marking the beginning of her Curve paintings series. ‘Riley’s work from the mid-1970s until the end of the decade took her concern with colour interaction and its relationship with light to new levels of complexity. The vehicle for these developments was her adoption in 1974 of the curve form as the fundamental unit of her paintings’.[4]


In 1978, Bridget Riley was recorded in conversation with Robert Kudielka and when asked about her stipe paintings of the mid 1970’s she explained that the sequences of colour were comparable to … “a powerful chant gathering momentum through assembling blocks of colour bands in an apparently random way. But there is an underpinning of order based on the different spatial sensations of these blocks. The greatest depth is in the centre of the canvas whereas towards each side this space is reduced to support the central event.” (Bridget Riley





Bridget Riley, Cantus Firmus, 1972 – 73                  Bridget Riley, Eclipse, 1973

Acrylic on canvas: 241.3 x 215.9 cm                     Acrylic on linen: 226.5 x 208 cm

Tate [T01868]                                                    British Council Collection














Born London 1931


Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley spent most of her childhood in Cornwall near Padstow in a cottage with her mother, aunt and younger sister, her father being away in the armed forces during the War.  From 1946-48 she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, where she was introduced by her teacher Colin Hayes to the history of painting and encouraged to attend a local life class.  Riley went on to study at Goldsmith’s College of Art from 1949-52 under Sam Rabin and then at the RCA from 1952-5 at the same time as Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and John Bratby. A long period of unhappiness followed her graduation from the RCA as Riley nursed her father after a serious car accident and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown.  After a number of jobs she joined the J Walter Thompson advertising agency. 


In 1959 Riley took part in a summer school in Suffolk organised by Harry Thubron, and met Maurice de Sausmarez, who became her friend and mentor, going on to write the first monograph of her work.  On tour in Italy in the summer of 1960, Riley painted Pink Landscape, 1960, a key piece in her early development.  Having broken with Sausmarez and suffered an artistic crisis, her attempts to create an entirely black painting produced her first black-and-white works.  She held her first solo show 1962 at Gallery One, London and won the International Prize for painting at the 34th Venice Biennale in 1968, the first British contemporary painter and first woman ever to win. 


The work of Bridget Riley is represented in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The British Council; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Berardo Collection; Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Lisbon; the Arts Council Collection Hayward Gallery, London; the Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Neues Museum, Nurnberg; the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and the Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Kitasaku. 


[1] D. H. Hubel and T. N. Wiesel ed., The Ferrier Lecture: Functional architecture of macaque monkey visual cortex, Proceedings of the Royal Society London B, Vol. 198 (London, 1977) pp.1-59.

[2] S. Zeki, ‘Bridget Riley and the Art of the Brain’, in Bridget Riley Rétrospective, ed. H. Studievic (Paris, 2008) pp.121.

[3] B. Riley, ‘Bridget Riley in conversation with Isabel Carlisle’, Bridget Riley Works 1961-1998, ed. Abbot Hall Art Gallery (Cumbria, 1998) p.10.

[4] P. Moorhouse, A Dialogue with Sensation: The Art of Bridget Riley, exhib cat (Tate, London, 2003) p.20

Post War BritishBridget Riley