Tate holds the most extensive collection of Camden Town Group paintings and drawings in the world. It comprises 127 works by eighteen artists and includes such iconic paintings as Walter Sickert’s La Hollandaise c.1906 and Ennui c.1914, Harold Gilman’s Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table c.1916, and Charles Ginner’s Piccadilly Circus 1912. Together these works constitute a major resource for understanding an important but often somewhat neglected period in the development of modern art in Britain, and for appreciating the impact of cultural and social changes in British society in the years before the First World War.
The Camden Town Group online research project has at its core a catalogue of Tate’s holdings, prepared by Tate curators and cataloguers. Each artwork will have an entry, with a full scholarly apparatus including an exhibition history and literature references, technical notes, and an often extensive commentary on the work’s subject and historical and social context, complete with comparative illustrations where appropriate. Each artist will also have a biography and a selected bibliography.
The project is conceived as a broad and multi-disciplinary investigation into the Camden Town Group, its aims, history, impact and achievements. The entries on individual works will therefore link to a range of other texts and materials on the project micro-site, allowing visitors to follow their own research interests. Leading scholars, working in fields such as cultural history, design history, social geography and literature, will be invited to explore different aspects of Camden Town art. Major themes will include modernity and the metropolis, social class and social type, popular culture and performance, gender and sexuality, and the countryside.
Funded by The Getty Foundation from 2009 to 2011, the project aims to reflect upon the significance today of the Camden Town Group and to stimulate further research and thinking about this key period in British history. Alongside scholarly essays and factual shorter texts, the project site will include transcripts of contemporary reviews and letters, excerpts of historical films of London sites, vintage photographs and films, and music hall songs, which, it is hoped, will provide a rich and flexible research resource for future generations. The project will also see innovative work in the development of the technological infrastructure to support this and future cataloguing projects in ways that will maximise the research value of the published materials.