Charles Shannon

Les Marmitons

1897

Medium
Oil paint on canvas on board
Dimensions
Support: 390 x 366 mm
frame: 490 x 468 x 55 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1942
Reference
N05363

Display caption

These two young girls, dressed up as male kitchen servants or ‘marmitons’, are caught unawares. They appear self conscious in their new guise, as if their childhood game has been interrupted by an uninvited onlooker.

Children’s love of dressing up and pretending to be someone else can appear to confirm that certain behaviour is a ‘natural’ part of childhood, as if children were the same at all times and in all cultures. The fact that the two girls are wearing seventeenth-century costume seems to reflect this idea.

Gallery label, July 2004

Catalogue entry

N05363 LES MARMITONS (THE SCULLIONS) 1897

Inscr. ‘C H S 97’ b.l.
Canvas, 15×14 1/4 (38×36).
Purchased from Christie, Manson & Woods (Knapping Fund) 1942.
Coll: Sir Edmund Davis by 1915, sold Christie's, 15 May 1942 (153), as ‘A Sketch for “Marmitons”’.
Lit: T. Martin Wood, ‘The Edmund Davis Collection II’ in Studio, LXIV, 1915, p.232.

Although described as a study for ‘Les Marmitons’, a picture which was also formerly in the collection of Sir Edmund Davis (repr. Studio, LXIV, 1915, p.236), the composition of N05363 differs considerably from the final work. The two female figures in seventeenth-century fancy dress are common to both, but are grouped more closely in half-seated poses in the Tate sketch. The finished painting was exhibited at the International Society's third exhibition in 1901 (88) as ‘Rose and Blanche’ and was included in the Davis Sale, 15 May 1942 (147), as ‘Les Marmitons’, 41×37 in. The girl on the left is probably Miss Kate Hargood, who is identified by George as the sitter for ‘A Souvenir of Van Dyck’, also of 1897 (repr. E. B. G[eorge], Charles Shannon, 1924, pl.I), where she appears in almost the same pose.

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

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