N04971 A FAIR BY NIGHT 1938
Canvas, 44×60 (112×152); painted surface, 42 3/4×58 1/2 (108·5×148·5).
Presented by Fairfax Hall 1938.
Exh: Wildenstein, November–December 1938 (26).
The artist wrote (15 December 1952 and December 1957) that the picture was finished in 1938 and was based on a small watercolour (still in his possession in 1957) done many years before from a window just outside Bridport, Dorset. The watercolour had a single figure in front. The figures and details were worked out from hundreds of drawings and studies made chiefly at Hampstead Heath and the painting took several years on and off to complete. It was painted in London.
An earlier and smaller picture with the composition cut differently and entirely different figures was based on the same scene and belongs to Mrs Carl Medley. It was exhibited at the Grosvenor Galleries, 1923 (18), as ‘Fair at Bridport’. Another picture which was often exhibited as ‘A Fair by Night’ belongs to Sir Gerald Kelly and was originally entitled ‘O'Brien's West End Amusement Park, Tottenham Court Road, 1925’. This was painted from a small sketch done in a disused lavatory overlooking the fair-ground on the site of Meux Brewery in Tottenham Court Road.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I