Not on display
- Walter Bayes 1869–1956
- Gouache and graphite on paper
- Support: 724 x 1168 mm
- Presented by the friends associated with the artist during his Headmastership of Westminster School 1934
In a letter to the Tate Gallery written in 1954, Walter Bayes explained that Under the Candles: Mr Charles Ginner Presiding was a study for an oil painting exhibited at the Royal Academy.1 He added that his painting had been ‘dreadfully skied’ during display, meaning that it had been hung so high that it was virtually impossible to see it. Since the study is dated 1933 and Bayes did not exhibit at the Academy between 1931 and 1935, Mary Chamot, an Assistant Keeper at the Tate Gallery, reasoned that the picture must have been the work entitled La Vie Galante – ‘On Sonne’ (The Gentlemanly Life – ‘Someone Rings the Bell’),2 exhibited at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1936.3 The appearance and whereabouts of this painting are currently unknown but the title does not seem to bear much relation to the appearance and subject of Under the Candles. However, as the art historian Wendy Baron has pointed out, Bayes did have a tendency to give his works obscure titles with cryptic meanings.4 It is possible that the French title has a colloquial meaning which has been lost owing to translation or the passage of time.
Under the Candles: Mr Charles Ginner Presiding depicts the crowded interior of a room in a casino, structured by arches and columns and lit by low, green-fringed lampshades and a large electric chandelier. The harsh lighting cast by these light sources creates bright highlights on the sheen of fabric and jewellery which Bayes has depicted with acidic colours and bold touches of gouache, painted over an underdrawing of crosshatched pencil lines, characteristic of his drawing technique. The foreground is dominated by one long gaming table around which are grouped a number of men and women participating in the gambling. The artist Charles Ginner is probably the man standing on the left of the table, leaning forward with both hands placed beside the wheel. As a young man, Ginner’s character and looks were reportedly rather dashingly French, and this is how he appears in a portrait by Malcolm Drummond of 1911 (fig.1). In 1933, however, he would have been fifty-five and his appearance was rather altered. His friend Marjorie Lilly recorded that he was a ‘thick-set, sturdy, short-necked man with a round, bald head and a bun-shaped face’,5 a description which is confirmed by other contemporary depictions of Ginner such as Portrait of Charles Ginner 1930 (fig.2) by Edward Le Bas. No other portraits have been identified within the work.
Subject and location
The Westminster School of Art
Walter Bayes, letter to Tate Gallery, [January 1954], Tate Catalogue file.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, vol.1, London 1964, p.33.
The One Hundred and Sixty-Eighth Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1936 (736).
Wendy Baron, Perfect Moderns: A History of the Camden Town Group, Aldershot and Vermont 2000, p.146.
Marjorie Lilly, Sickert: The Painter and his Circle, London 1971, p.132.
Baron 2000, p.172.
B. Fairfax Hall, Paintings and Drawings by Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner in the Collection of Edward Le Bas, London 1965, p.29.
Walter Sickert, letter to Ethel Sands, ?1914/15, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.53.
Lilly 1971, p.132.
John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, London 1952, p.212.
Wendy Baron, ‘The Many Faces of Dora Sly’, Burlington Magazine, vol.145, no.1204, July 2003, p.519.
Reproduced ibid., p.516.
Peter Arnold, The Encyclopaedia of Gambling, London 1978, p.138.
Arnold 1978, p.137.
Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Walter Bayes, exhibition catalogue, Goupil Gallery, London 1928 (13, 27 and 42).
Jan McMillen (ed.), Gambling Cultures: Studies in History and Interpretation, London and New York 1996, pp.264–6.
Christie’s, London, 22 November 1994 (lot 95, reproduced).
The One Hundred and Fifty-Seventh Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, May–August 1925 (296).
‘Goupil Gallery’, Times, 11 June 1929, p.12.
Walter Sickert, ‘Preface’, in Exhibition of Paintings by Walter Bayes, exhibition catalogue, Leicester Galleries, London 1918.
Frank Medworth, letter to James Bolivar Manson, 25 April 1934, Tate Archive TG 4/2/65/1.
Walter Bayes, ‘The Grammar of Drawing’, Architectural Review, vol.55, January 1924, p.12.
Pupil and Master: Reginald Goodfellow (1894–1985) and Walter Bayes (1869–1956), exhibition catalogue, Parkin Gallery, London 1986, [p.4].
Bruce Arnold, Orpen: Mirror to an Age, London 1981, pp.38–40.
Stuart Macdonald, The History and Philosophy of Art Education, London 1970, p.269.
Quoted in Henry Tonks, ‘Notes from Wander Years’, Artwork, vol.5, no.20, Winter 1929, p.230.
Quoted in Ysanne Holt, Philip Wilson Steer, Bridgend 1992, p.61.
Walter Sickert, letter to Ethel Sands, not dated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.124.
Walter Sickert, ‘Mural Decoration’, English Review, July 1912, in Anna Gruetzner Robins (ed.), Walter Sickert: The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford 2000, p.326.
Westminster School of Art Prospectus 1921–2, London Metropolitan Archives, EO/HFE/13/18.
Report of Inspection for Westminster L.C.C. Technical Institute School of Art June 1919, The National Archives (TNA) PRO ED 83–75.
Westminster School of Art Prospectus 1933–4, London Metropolitan Archives, EO/HFE/13/30.
Walter Sickert, ‘Illustration’, Daily Telegraph, 7 October 1925, in Robins (ed.) 2000, p.526.
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