William Lionel WyllieToil, Glitter, Grime and Wealth on a Flowing Tide 1883

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Artwork details

William Lionel Wyllie (1851‑1931)
Toil, Glitter, Grime and Wealth on a Flowing Tide
Date 1883
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1156 x 1651 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1883
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1840


Wyllie's marine pictures give a wonderful feeling of the busy working life of the Thames in its heyday, when London was the biggest and richest port in the world. In images such as this, his first successful work, he combines a strong realist style with a sense of the romance of ships and maritime trade.

Wyllie spent much of his time living on a boat in the lower Thames and painting directly from nature. For some time this picture was thought to have been painted at Greenwich, but has recently been identified as the Pool of London below London Bridge, looking west towards the dome of St Paul's Cathedral in the distance. As Archibald has noted, 'The subject of this picture - tugs working barges - was something of an innovation, as painters had formerly concentrated on the more decorative types of vessels; however Wyllie's obsessive love for the sea and anything that floated on it, embraced every type and size of vessel… (read more)

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