Henry Tonks

Saturday Night in the Vale


Oil paint on canvas
Support: 514 x 610 mm
Bequeathed by Sir William Orpen 1932

Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Henry Tonks’ b.r.
Bequeathed by Sir William Orpen 1932.
Coll: Purchased by Orpen from the artist 1929.
Exh: N.E.A.C., November 1929 (70); Anthology of English Painting, 1900–1931, French Gallery, November 1931 (68), as ‘George Moore Reading, No. 1’; Tate Gallery, October–November 1936 (20).
Lit: Hone, 1939, pp.54 and 217–19; William Rothenstein, Since Fifty, 1939, pp.63–4.
Repr: Apollo, XXIV, 1936, p.302; Studio, CXIII, 1937, p.87; Hesketh Hubbard, A Hundred Years of British Painting 1851–1951, 1951, pl.69.

Often known as ‘An Evening in the Vale’. Painted at the request of Sir William Orpen, the picture represents George Moore reading aloud from his manuscript of Aphrodite in Aulis, a novel which he published in 1930, to his friends on one of his regular Saturday evening visits to Tonks's studio in The Vale, Chelsea. The audience consists of, from left to right, St John Hutchinson, Philip Wilson Steer (dozing in the arm-chair), Tonks (standing by the mantel- piece) and Mrs Mary St John Hutchinson. The painting occupied much of the artist's thought and time, and appears to have taken a year to achieve. Moore was most disgruntled with the result and described his own appearance in the picture as that of a ‘flabby old cook’, noting that at the same time Tonks had represented himself as a young and elegant ‘demi-god’. A second version was acquired by the Hon. Mrs Leverton Harris and was exhibited as ‘George Moore Reading, No. 2’ at the French Gallery, 1931 (69).

See also T00040, a similar picture from the same years.

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