Charles Ginner

Snow in Pimlico

1939

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 406 x 356 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1941
Reference
N05270

Catalogue entry

Entry

The view in this unusually small painting is from the second-floor window of 66 Claverton Street in Pimlico, where Ginner lived from 1938.1 He painted it during his first winter in the house, as it was exhibited in March 1939. The woman in No.73 opposite is brushing the snow from her steps and the pavement. The dark orange colour of her pullover is repeated in the curtains in the ground-floor windows. The niches at the bases of the porch columns are boot scrapers. Ginner plays with the pigment as both a representation and a material: the white paint sits like the white snow on top of the red pillar box, as do the painted footprints that mark recesses in the snow on the pavement.
Ginner frequently painted views from his own windows, as in From a Hampstead Window 1923 (Tate N03873), Flask Walk, Hampstead, on Coronation Day 1937 (Tate N05276) and Hartland Point from Boscastle 1941 (Tate N05306). This painting was presumably made from a drawing, following Ginner’s usual practice. The drawing is not known, but there are two detailed sketches of a similar view looking the other way along the street.2 The drawings and the painting include figures, which although small are ‘typical’ Londoners: sweeping the porch, chatting in the doorway, watering a window box, reading a tabloid newspaper while walking, and plodding along the pavement with a stick. In the Tate painting it is clear from the footprints that someone has been to the pillar box.
John Rothenstein took up the post of Director of the Tate Gallery in June 1938, and this was one of a number of purchases he made to catch up with modern British art. He clearly liked Ginner personally and published an essay on him in 1952. Rothenstein lived and worked in Pimlico and he recorded the visits he made to Ginner’s Claverton Street flat, enjoying the way that this affected his own vision of the area, noticing ‘the way the streets outside receded in long, grey, symmetrical vistas’ as they set off to dine in ‘some “eating-house” with shabby, comfortable red-plush seats’.3 It may be that Rothenstein saw Ginner at work on this painting. Ginner moved out of the flat after it was damaged by wartime bombing in 1940–1, but it seems likely that he continued to store his paintings there.

David Fraser Jenkins
May 2005

Notes

1
Ginner’s house and the pillar box opposite (which has been replaced) were still there in 2005, but the other side of the street has been rebuilt.
2
The first is Pimlico or Street Scene, watercolour and Indian ink, 370 x 268 mm (Royal Society of Painters in Water-colours), reproduced in The Glory of Watercolour: The Royal Society of Painters in Water-colours, exhibition catalogue, Bankside Gallery, London 1987 (116). The second is Street in Pimlico, watercolour and ink, 330 x 265 mm, Sotheby’s, 21 June 1995 (lot 17, reproduced).
3
John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, London 1952, p.188.
4
Tate Archive TGA 9319/3, p.196.

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