Augustus John OM

The Little Railway, Martigues

1928

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 470 x 546 mm
frame: 616 x 706 x 86 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940
Reference
N05097

Catalogue entry

N05097 THE LITTLE RAILWAY, MARTIGUES 1928
 
Inscr. ‘John’ b.l.
Canvas, 18 1/2×21 1/2 (46×55).
Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940.
Coll: Purchased by Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck from Arthur Tooth & Sons 1929.
Exh: Arthur Tooth & Sons, April–May 1929 (7 or 23: ‘The Little Railway Martigues’ 1 and 11); Temple Newsam, Leeds, July–August 1946 (48).
Lit: T. W. Earp, ‘The Recent Work of Augustus John’ in Studio, XCVII, 1929, pp.231–2; John, 1952, pp.104–8, 257–64.
Repr: Apollo, IX, 1929, p.203; Rothenstein, 1944, pl.87.

Martigues, a little town in Provence, is situated half-way between Arles and Marseilles. John tells us that Provence ‘had been for years the goal of my dreams’ and Martigues was, of all the towns there, the one for which he had most affection. John travelled round Provence in search of the ideal place: ‘With a feeling that I was going to find what I was seeking, an anchorage at last, I returned from Marseilles, and, changing at Pas des Lanciers, took the little railway which leads to Martigues. On arriving my premonition proved correct: there was no need to seek further.’

The other version of ‘The Little Railway’ which was exhibited with the Tate Gallery picture in 1929 is a larger picture and includes more landscape to the left of the railway; in 1957 it was owned by the Adams Gallery, London. This or a third picture was exhibited at Agnew's, Contemporary British Artists, November–December 1930 (18).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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