Walter Bayes

The Ford

c.1917–20

Not on display
Artist
Walter Bayes 1869–1956
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Frame: 1113 x 1527 x 60 mm
support: 1030 x 1445 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1928
Reference
N04388

Catalogue entry

Entry

Background

Although Walter Bayes has now fallen into relative obscurity, many reviewers of the three Camden Town Group exhibitions expressed positive views of his work. Some of the more conservative critics preferred his paintings to those of his now more famous colleagues. The general consensus was summed up by A.J. Finberg, who wrote during the third Carfax Gallery exhibition: ‘What on earth he [Bayes] is doing or proposes to do in such a gallery is no doubt only his affair, but at least he has serious and definite aims as a painter’.1 Many reviewers were unable to comprehend Bayes’s inclusion in a gallery of artists from whom he was so obviously different in style and outlook, but almost all praised his intellectually sound approach to composition, colour and design and the decorative appeal of his paintings. The Pall Mall Gazette declared that Bayes was ‘very decidedly among the freshest and brightest influences in current painting’,2 whilst the Morning Post called him ‘one of the most brilliant of our younger men ... No other painter exhibiting is more respectful of his technical accomplishment than Mr. Bayes.’3
Tate’s The Ford is the second of two versions of the subject by the artist. The first version was painted during the First World War and was exhibited by William Marchant at the Goupil Gallery in ‘that window looking on to Lower Regent St. which for so long was the best place in London for showing pictures’.4 Despite its advantageous display spot, however, it failed to attract a buyer and was subsequently taken to Arthur Clifton at the Carfax Gallery who suggested that it should be titled ‘The Ford’ and sent to the Royal Academy in 1917. In a letter to the Tate Gallery, Bayes wrote in 1953:
This was done but it was badly skied [hung high] and looked over decorated for its age. I took a dislike for it but not for its subject so did it again with a thorough basis of perspective. Your picture is the second version which I sent to the NEAC. It was very well hung but attracted no attention being quite out of fashion in style.5

Composition

Location

Nicola Moorby
September 2003

Notes

1
‘The Camden Town Group and Others’, Star, 10 December 1912.
2
‘The Camden Town Group’, Pall Mall Gazette, 12 December 1912.
3
‘The Camden Town Group’, Morning Post, 17 December 1912.
4
Walter Bayes, letter to Mary Chamot, January 1953, Tate Catalogue file.
5
Ibid.
6
Walter Bayes, ‘The Grammar of Drawing’, Architectural Review, vol.55, January 1924, p.12.
7
‘Obituary: Mr. Walter Bayes’, Times, 23 January 1956, p.10.
8
Reproduced in Anthony Blunt, Nicolas Poussin, London and New York 1967, no.146.
9
Walter Bayes, The Art of Decorative Painting, London 1927, p.8.
10
Walter Bayes, ‘The Camden Town Group’, Saturday Review, 25 January 1930, p.100.
11
Ibid.
12
Wendy Baron, Perfect Moderns: A History of the Camden Town Group, Aldershot and Vermont 2000, p.146, reproduced fig.44.
13
Alfred James Montreuil (born 1907) and Alexander George Thompson (born 1910). Information supplied by Julia Bayes, great-niece of the artist, November 2007.
14
Walter Bayes, letter to Mary Chamot, [January 1954], Tate Catalogue file.
15
Information supplied by Frank Spence, July 2003; see also http://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/, accessed July 2003.
16
Reproduced in C.C. Green, The Coast Lines of the Cambrian Railways Vol.2: Dovey Junction to Dolgelley, Didcot 1996, p.289.
17
Bayes to Chamot, [January 1954], Tate Catalogue file.
18
‘Art Notes’, Illustrated London News, 15 July 1911.
19
Christie’s, London, 13 May 1994 (lot 7, reproduced).
20
Exhibition of Paintings by Walter Bayes, exhibition catalogue, Leicester Galleries, London 1918 (42 and 45).
21
Reproduced in Pupil and Master: Reginald Goodfellow (1894–1985) and Walter Bayes (1869–1956), exhibition catalogue, Parkin Gallery, London 1986 (back cover).
22
See Hereford Court Sketchbook 1798 (Tate, Turner Bequest XXXVIII).
23
Cader Idris from the Barmouth Sands 1810, watercolour on paper (Tate T00988).
24
Reproduced in David Blayney Brown, Andrew Hemingway and Anne Lyles, Romantic Landscape: The Norwich School of Painting, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 2000 (33).
25
Richard Ayton and William Daniell, A Voyage Round Great Britain, first published London 1814, facsimile edition 1978, p.152.
26
Ibid., pp.153–4.
27
Bayes to Chamot, [January 1954], Tate Catalogue file.
28
For example, The Coast Road exhibited 1921 (whereabouts unknown), reproduced in The Royal Academy Illustrated, London 1921, p.37.
29
Reproduced in Beverley Cole and Richard Durack, Railway Posters 1923–1947, London 1992, p.33.
30
Reproduced ibid., p.90.
31
Bayes to Chamot, [January 1954], Tate Catalogue file.
32
Ibid.

Read full Catalogue entry

Explore

You might like