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.
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.
Reproduced at the Government Art Collection, http://www
.gac .culture .gov .uk /work .aspx ?obj =20627, accessed 25 February 2011.
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.
Three watercolours by Ratcliffe depicting the exterior of 102 Wilbury Road are reproduced ibid., pls.1–3.
William Townsend, letter to Tate Gallery, 23 March 1956, Tate Catalogue file.