Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group: Room guide, Modernity / Metropolis

Spencer Gore, ‘Inez and Taki’ 1910
Spencer Gore
Inez and Taki 1910
Robert Bevan, ‘Horse Sale at the Barbican’ 1912
Robert Bevan
Horse Sale at the Barbican 1912
Charles Ginner, ‘The Café Royal’ 1911
Charles Ginner
The Café Royal 1911
© Tate

This room focuses on paintings of London’s changing means of transport, places of popular entertainment and city views from windows.

Robert Bevan studied the disappearing world of horse-drawn transport, while Charles Ginner revelled in the bustling hubs of motorised transport such as Piccadilly Circus. Following Walter Sickert’s fascination with the London music hall, Spencer Gore used a brilliantly lit palette to evoke the spectacle of popular stage performances. Ginner’s image of a circus act has an almost documentary quality, while Malcolm Drummond’s St James’s Park shows a far more formal mode of painting. Harold Gilman looked for altogether quieter places to paint and his An Eating House shows how far Camden Town painters approached a highly abstracted form of social realism by 1914.

In their views from the studio Gore and William Ratcliffe look out on to a London of back gardens and leafy squares with a calm stillness which has none of the dynamism to be found in Italian Futurism, first seen in London in 1912.

It was the former Camden Town artist Wyndham Lewis and a younger generation of painters, such as Edward Wadsworth, who from 1912 were to develop radically new ideas of modernity.