T03219 LIFE CLASS c. 1955–79
Oil on canvas, 48 × 84 1/2 (122 × 214)
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1981
Prov: Purchased from the artist through the New Grafton Gallery by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1979
Exh: RA, May–August 1964 (90, as ‘Life Class at the Byam Shaw’); Peter Greenham, New Grafton Gallery, April 1979 (1, as ‘Life Class’)
Repr: RA Illustrated, 1964, p.26
Peter Greenham started painting ‘Life Class’ in about 1955 to 1957 when he was co-principal of the Byam Shaw School of Art, Kensington, with Richard Thomas a stained-glass designer and Patrick Phillips, painter.
In a letter to the compiler postmarked 14 January 1983 Greenham wrote: ‘It was from half-a-dozen drawings I did in the life-class at the Byam Shaw that I began to paint the picture. At that time I used raw umber for the underpainting. I set the canvas up in the class room with the intention of finishing it there; but I found there were too many accidents of grouping and colour to do much except bring something here and something there to completion. I think the girl in the blue smock sitting half way to the mantelpiece is all that remains of these sessions. So I took the picture back to my own room and went on working from drawings, some of individuals, some of groups…