Douglas Fox Pitt

Interior with Maid

c.1913

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Douglas Fox Pitt 1864–1922
Medium
Graphite, charcoal and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 412 x 483 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Sarah Fox-Pitt and Anthony Pitt-Rivers 2008, accessioned 2009
Reference
T12996

Catalogue entry

Entry

Although he was never one of its formal constituents, Douglas Fox Pitt was part of the circle around the Camden Town Group. When they disbanded and reconvened as the more radical London Group in 1913 – containing the advanced modern elements of David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein and the vorticists – Fox Pitt became a founder member. His own art nevertheless followed the progressive but still conservative figurative style established by the Camden Town painters, most notably adopting their bright, post-impressionist palette. Fox Pitt’s pictures of street scenes and city landscapes to some degree also recall Camden Town Group subject matter. A man of independent means, he worked generally in watercolour, and his pictures became known through a series of London exhibitions of scenes painted on foreign travels in India, Morocco and elsewhere. Closer to home, views of Brighton formed the most common subject in his art.
In Interior with Maid Fox Pitt shows his sitting room in Brighton with an unidentified maid in dark blue dress and white apron tending the fire. There is a connection with Camden Town Group depictions of figures in interiors, such as those painted by Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore (fig.1). The watercolour documents a revealing mixture of traditional and more advanced taste. The bold design of the sofa throw suggests it came from Roger Fry, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s avant-garde Omega Workshops, which opened in July 1913. Hanging on the wall are two Camden Town Group paintings owned by Fox Pitt. On the chimney piece is Harold Gilman’s Norwegian Street Scene (Kirkegaten, Flekkerfjord) 1913 (Government Art Collection).1 Next to the mirror is an oil by Charles Ginner, The Wet Street, Dieppe 1911 (private collection),2 which Fox Pitt had acquired when it was shown in the second Camden Town Group exhibition in December 1911. Fox Pitt’s income allowed him modestly to collect work by his friends in the Camden Town Group. He also owned, for instance, Ginner’s The Café Royal 1911 (Tate N05050), and he commissioned Gilman to paint his nephew’s portrait during the First World War when he served in the army.3

Robert Upstone
July 2009

Notes

1
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, exhibition catalogue, Christie’s, London 1988 (128).
2
Reproduced Sotheby’s, 15 May 1985 (90).
3
Christie’s, London, 11 November 1988 (lot 314), called in error Portrait of Douglas Fox Pitt.

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