Malcolm Drummond

Boyne Hill Vicarage, Maidenhead

c.1910

Artist
Malcolm Drummond 1880–1945
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 508 x 406 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1963
Reference
T00611

Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

Boyne Hill, at Maidenhead in Berkshire, twenty-five miles west of London, was the birthplace of Malcolm Drummond. His father, Canon Arthur Hislop Drummond (died 1925), was vicar of All Saints Church, Boyne Hill from 1876 to 1917, and he and his family lived in the vicarage next to the church. Despite living in London from 1903, Drummond frequently returned to visit the family home at Boyne Hill, and the church, house and garden appear in a number of works. For this view of his parents’ house, Drummond set up his easel in the back courtyard behind the vicarage, to see the point where their home, at the right, joined with the adjacent school buildings, on the left. This might be thought to be one of the least architecturally impressive views of the complex of buildings, especially as the principal focus is on a small, lean-to shed without a door. Since he grew up in these buildings, this shed might have had some personal significance for him, but it is more likely that this choice of viewpoint fits his aesthetic preference for the humble, seen for example in his painting of the backs of houses at Chelsea, 1914 (Southampton City Art Gallery).1 This shed still exists, and has been converted into an extension of the house (fig.1). The aspects of the buildings in perspective and the positions of the patterns of the black bricks running horizontally along the gabled chimneys are entirely accurate but the minutiae of the architectural detail is lost in the painting’s overall concern with the abstract qualities of colour.
Like the work of his close friend and fellow Camden Town Group member Charles Ginner, many of Drummond’s paintings show his interest in architecture. Both artists liked to record mundane, everyday views of backstreets and buildings, with the focus on the visual spectacle of contrasting façades, varying rooflines and the decorative patterning of windows and chimneys. But their approaches differed. Ginner’s paintings tackle the complexities of perspective and distance, and carefully enumerate details of brickwork, tiling and geometric shapes. By contrast, Drummond’s paintings of houses and rooftops are not as controlled, and focus on creating patterns by juxtaposing areas of solid colour as, for example, in A Chelsea Street c.1912 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).2 Although his pencil sketches of architectural features tend to be very detailed and carefully mapped out, for example in the sketchbooks from the artist’s estate now kept in Tate Archive, this detail was not transferred to the oil paintings.3 Instead, Drummond’s works demonstrate his interest in patterning and in the abstract shapes created by silhouettes of buildings and rooflines, telegraph poles and iron railings.

Nicola Moorby
May 2003

Notes

1
Backs of Houses, Chelsea, reproduced at Southampton City Council, http://www.southampton.gov.uk/s-leisure/artsheritage/sotonartgallery/search/view-artwork.asp?acc_num=1411, accessed May 2003.
2
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, exhibition catalogue, Christie’s, London 1988 (117).
3
TGA 8915.
4
Fields and Road, Penn Street, reproduced at Southampton City Council, http://www.southampton.gov.uk/s-leisure/artsheritage/sotonartgallery/search/view-artwork.asp?acc_num=10/1998, accessed May 2003.
5
John Elliott and John Pritchard (eds.), George Edmund Street: A Victorian Architect in Berkshire, Reading 1998, p.50.
6
Ibid., p.56.
7
Ibid., p.57.
8
Margaret Drummond, letter to Tate Gallery, 1 December 1963, Tate Catalogue file.
9
Reproduced in Wendy Baron, Perfect Moderns: A History of the Camden Town Group, Aldershot and Vermont 2000, pl.2.
10
Ibid., p.90.
11
Camden Town Recalled, exhibition catalogue, Fine Art Society, London 1976 (13).
12
Sotheby’s, London, 27 March 1991 (lot 29).
13
Phillips, London, 8 March 1994 (lot 13).
14
Information supplied to the author by Jo Drummond, the adopted daughter of Drummond’s second wife, August 2003.
15
Malcolm Drummond 1880–1945, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 1963 (2).
16
Reproduced in Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Agnew’s, London 1991 (23).

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