- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 570 x 762 mm
frame: 682 x 934 x 85 mm
- Purchased 1982
Originally known as Clarence Market, Clarence Gardens NW1 was designed by the architect John Nash (1752–1835) as part of a series of three markets in the area to the east of Regent’s Park. Consisting of York, Cumberland and Clarence Markets, they were originally intended for trading in meat, hay and vegetables respectively. Each was bordered by terraces of small houses intended for artisan dwellers. Clarence Market was renamed Clarence Gardens soon after it was built in 1824, when the centre of the square was occupied by a market garden. The whole area was badly bombed in 1941, and Clarence Gardens was cleared and replaced by council flats in the 1960s.1
Out of two in themselves fairly prosaic scenes, ‘Clarence Gardens’ and ‘Hotel Cecil from Hungerford Bridge,’ Mr. W. Ratcliffe has without offending against the modesty of truth, extracted elements of beauty. In both cases compositions of decorative aspect and satisfying harmony, both linear and chromatic, have been obtained.2
Ratcliffe may have been stimulated to make these works by his friendship with Harold Gilman, who also painted two pictures of the square around 1912 (fig.2). Although depictions of north London squares and the backs of houses were a key feature of Camden Town painting – of Gore and Gilman in particular – they represent a relatively small part of Ratcliffe’s output. For the most part the artist favoured interior scenes or landscapes and rural subjects, like those he produced in Letchworth Garden City and in Sweden, where he travelled in 1913.