William Ratcliffe The Artist’s Room, Letchworth c.1932

Artwork details

Artist
William Ratcliffe 1870–1955
Title
The Artist’s Room, Letchworth
Date c.1932
Medium Oil paint on paper
Dimensions Support: 457 x 552 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by S.K. Ratcliffe, the artist's brother 1955
Reference
T00062
Not on display

Catalogue entry

Entry

This picture shows the room where William Ratcliffe stayed at 102 Wilbury Road in Letchworth Garden City, the home of Stanley and Signe Parker and their family (figs.1–3). The house was specially designed for them in the Arts and Crafts tradition in 1908 by Stanley’s brother Barry Parker (1867–1947) and his partner Raymond Unwin (1863–1940), who were the key architects of Letchworth. It is now a Grade II listed building. The furniture shown in Ratcliffe’s painting is also in the Arts and Crafts style, and the scene overall reflects the relaxed, simple life that many people looked for in the Garden City.
Stanley and Signe Parker's house, 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1910
Fig.1
Stanley and Signe Parker's house, 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1910
Photo © First Garden City Heritage Museum

Interior of Stanley and Signe Parker's house, 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1909
Fig.2
Interior of Stanley and Signe Parker's house, 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1909
Photo © First Garden City Heritage Museum
Signe Parker sitting in her house at 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1910
Fig.3
Signe Parker sitting in her house at 102 Wilbury Road, Letchworth Garden City c.1910
Photo © First Garden City Heritage Museum


Probably influenced by his mentor Harold Gilman and other Camden Town Group members such as Spencer Gore, Ratcliffe painted many interiors over the years. In Cottage Interior c.1914 (fig.4), as with the Tate work, blues and purples are used to accentuate the cool indoor atmosphere in contrast to the bright sunshine outside. Touches of complementary oranges and yellows are used to add warmth. In The Artist’s Room the bold red patterns in the rug, wall hanging and curtain further enhance the intimacy of the scene. Cottage Interior portrays a recently executed painting, Summer Landscape, Sweden 1913 (Government Art Collection),1 propped against the wall. In Tate’s painting the artist’s presence is felt through his hat, depicted on a small table at the centre left of the composition.

Robert Upstone and Helena Bonett
February 2011

Notes

1
Reproduced at the Government Art Collection, http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/work.aspx?obj=20627, accessed 25 February 2011.
2
Lisa Parker, letter to Tate Gallery, 6 February 1956, Tate Catalogue file. A photograph of Ratcliffe and Lisa Parker together c.1930 is reproduced in Patricia Williams, William Ratcliffe: A Country Walk, St Ives 2010, pl.15.
3
Three watercolours by Ratcliffe depicting the exterior of 102 Wilbury Road are reproduced ibid., pls.1–3.
4
William Townsend, letter to Tate Gallery, 23 March 1956, Tate Catalogue file.

About this artwork