Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Charles Spencelayh - The Slump
signed l.l.: C.SPENCELAYH.; also signed, titled and inscribed on a label attached to the frame: Original Oil Painting/ The Slump/
by C. Spencelayh
oil on canvas
34 by 21cm.; 13¼ by 8¼in.
ESTIMATE 50,000 - 70,000 GBP
There has been some deliberation regarding the title of this picture. In his monograph on Spencelayh's work, in which the picture is illustrated, Aubrey Noakes states that the picture is called A Thump. Whilst this might be a
misreading of the title as given on an old hand-written label attached to the reverse of the frame, it is possible that the 'thump' refers to the catastrophic drop in the economy in 1929. Although the Stock Market Crash of 1929 was
centred on Wall Street in New York, the devastation was felt across the world. The 1920s had been a decade of wealth and extravagance when people made vast fortunes on the stock market but in 1929 this was all brought to an abrupt end and led to a ten-year slump. Spencelayh's painting depicts an old man dressed in a mink coat and
silk top-hat, extravagant purchases that he may learn to regret. His face is wrinkled in anguish as he bites hard on his cigar and his knuckles turn white as he reads the news of the crash in The Financier newspaper. Spencelayh
was an artist who had known the hardships of fluctuating economies on his own household and poverty had been the subject of several pictures. No Assets depicts another old man contemplating his lack of money with not even a match to light his clay pipe, whilst Economy painted in 1914 shows a man surrounded by the contents of his pockets searching for the last of his coins. There is humour in the tragedy and despite the serious subject of The Slump the painting captures a cynicism.
The quality of the painting of wrinkled skin, glossy new fur and crumpled newspaper is superb and demonstrates Spencelayh's technical brilliance learnt when he trained as a painter of miniatures.
at 6:00 AM