Thursday, June 10, 2010
John Atkinson Grimshaw - Old Chelsea
signed and dated l.l.: Atkinson Grimshaw +93
oil on board
14¾ by 6 ¾in
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 48,000 GBP
Old Chelsea depicts the tower of Chelsea Old Church from Cheyne Row, looking westwards along Lordship Place where a Chelsea Pensioner and his young guardian are making their weary way homeward. The site remains today, though due to construction changes over time, the structures bear little resemblance to those painted by Grimshaw. The eighteenth-century houses which line the street on the left have been replaced by a more modern mansion block and the building on the right at the far end of Lordship Place is now The Cross Keys public house. Grimshaw began painting Chelsea subjects in 1880, during a period when the artist made frequent trips to London and maintained a studio in Manresa Road, north of the King's Road in Chelsea. In London, Grimshaw took advantage of increased opportunity to study the works of and socialize with more progressive painters. Another painting of the same view, also dated 1893, titled An Idyll of Old Chelsea was exhibited at the Leeds City Art Gallery in 1979 (Christie's, 12 June 2001, lot 54).
According to family tradition, Grimshaw knew the American artist James Whistler while the former kept his studio in Chelsea. Both artists admired each others views of the Thames by moonlight and Whistler would later comment, "I thought I had invented the Nocturne, until I saw Grimmy's moonlights" (Alexander Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, London, 1988, p. 75). Grimshaw collected Whistler's literary publications and marked this significant passage in his Ten O'clock Lecture:
"And when the evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil, and the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens, and fairy-land is before us - then the wayfarer hastens home; the working man and the cultured one, the wise man and the one of pleasure, cease to understand, as they have ceased to see, and Nature, who, for once, has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artist along, her son and master - her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her."
at 1:00 PM