George Thomson

St Paul’s

c.1897

Artist
George Thomson 1860–1939
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 635 x 762 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1920
Reference
N03506

Not on display

Display caption

This is one of a series of pictures that Thomson made of St Paul's Cathedral from different vantage points and under varying lighting conditions. According to D.S. MacColl, Steer rescued this picture from Thomson's studio floor presumably before it was first shown at the NEAC spring exhibition of 1898, where it was praised by the critics. In 1889 Thomson had figured in the one and only exhibition of the London Impressionists, a group that included Sickert, who believed that the urban scenery of the capital was a valid subject for Impressionist painting. Thomson suspended his interest in Impressionism in the mid 1890s in favour of Spanish Old Master style painting, but later turned again to Monet.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N03506 ST PAUL'S c. 1897

Inscr. ‘George Thomson’ b.r.

Canvas, 25×30 (63·5×76).
Purchased from Christie's (Clarke Fund) 1920.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by E. J. van Wisselingh at the N.E.A.C. Exhibition 1898; A. Croal Thompson, sold anonymously, Christie's, 19 December 1919 (150), bt. Martin for the Tate Gallery.
Exh: N.E.A.C., April–May 1898 (85); Twenty Years of British Art, 1890–1910, Whitechapel Art Gallery, May–June 1910 (298); C.A.S., Loan Exhibition, Manchester, winter 1911 (90); C.A.S., First Public Exhibition in London, Goupil Gallery, April 1913 (56).
Lit: Anon., ‘Australian Art and other Exhibitions’ in Art Journal, 1898, pp.186–7, repr. p.187; D. S. MacColl, Philip Wilson Steer, 1945, p.33.

This painting was given a place of honour when shown at the N.E.A.C. in the spring of 1898 and was highly praised by the critic of the Art Journal. The cathedral is seen from a point across the river on the Surrey side. D. S. MacColl mentions that Steer ‘rescued’ a painting by Thomson of ‘St Paul's’ from the floor of the artist's studio, and identifies it as that now in the Tate; this incident presumably occurred before its first exhibition and purchase by E. J. van Wisselingh in 1898. Two other paintings, ‘St Paul's Churchyard’ and ‘St Paul's from Fleet Street’, were shown at the 21st and 23rd N.E.A.C. exhibitions, November–December 1898 (99) and November–December 1904 (77) respectively. A dated painting of 1897, showing almost the same view as No.3506 but under different conditions of light, was sold at Sotheby's on 10 April 1963 (103), bt. P.M. Samuel.

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

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