Davies (1862-1928) was born in Utica, NY, attended the Chicago Academy of Design, then went to Mexico to work as an engineering draftsman from 1880-c.82. Returning to Chicago, he engaged briefly in business while studying at the Art Institute. In 1886 he moved to NYC, where he made his living as a magazine illustrator and attended classes at the Art Students League. In 1890 the collector Benjamin Altman sent Davies to Europe for independent study. The young artist absorbed influences from romantic, poetic, and decorative painting wherever he encountered it, but especially from the Venetians and Giorgione. Davies was a painter of idyllic visions and reveries, in the tradition of Allston and Ryder. But unlike Ryder, Davies was not a recluse; he was, on the contrary, a man of culture and wide knowledge, whose paintings were fed by memories of poetry and of the past. During the 1920s his interest in a variety of technical processes led both to work in chalk on black paper and to tapestry design.
This pastel drawing of a reclining male nude is from the latter period: it explores the relation of form to outline and, in its twisted and somewhat distorted pose of a lone human figure, foreshadows the later surrealistic and anguished figures of Francis Bacon.
Detail of leg:
Black signature on black background LR: