Jacques-Émile Blanche

Ludgate Circus: Entrance to the City (November, Midday)


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Jacques-Émile Blanche 1861–1942
Original title
Ludgate Circus: Entrée de la City (Novembre, midi)
Oil paint on board
Support: 1048 × 816 mm
frame: 1255 × 1025 × 63 mm
Presented by Georges A. Mevil-Blanche 1947

Display caption

This painting shows a view from Ludgate Circus, in the City of London looking down towards St Paul’s. The foreground is crowded with horse-drawn cabs and motor buses. A steam train crosses Ludgate Hill railway bridge above, which was demolished in 1990 to make way for the Thameslink. Blanche regularly visited London from France and lived in the city for six years from 1905. He used a four-wheeled vehicle as an extra studio from which he could make finished pictures of the city.

Gallery label, October 2020

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Catalogue entry

Jacques-Emile Blanche 1861-1942

N05755 Ludgate Circus: Entrée de la City (Novembre, Midi) (Ludgate Circus: Entrance to the City (November, Mid-day)) c.1910

Inscribed 'J.E. Blanche' b.r.
Oil on millboard, 41 ¼ x 32 1/8 (104.5 x 81.5)
Presented by Georges A. Mevil-Blanche 1947
Prov: Georges A. Mevil-Blanche, Offranville (bequest from the artist)
Exh: Cent Paysages de Jacques-Emile Blanche, Hôtel de Jean Charpentier, Paris, May-June 1927 (3, repr.) as 'Ludgate Circus: Entrée de la City (Novembre, midi)'; Jacques-Emile Blanche, Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, May-June 1929 (34) as 'Londres. Ludgate Hill et Saint-Paul'
Lit: John Rothenstein, 'Jacques-Emile Blanche' in Apollo, XII, 1930, p.204

According to Sir John Rothenstein, loc. cit.: 'In 1905, painting with greater and greater freedom and ease, the artist [Blanche] moved to London, where he remained for six years. Using a four-wheeler as an extra studio (for he already had one in William Street, Knightsbridge), he made a great number of finished paintings and studies of the town.' His exhibition at the Galerie Charpentier in 1929 included eighteen views of London, of such motifs as Belgrave Square, the Royal Exchange, Piccadilly Circus and Sloane Street (the last two of these are now in the City of York Art Gallery). He evidently continued to paint London views after 1911, as the introductory note to the catalogue of his exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, in February 1914 (which included some London views, but not this particular work) states as follows: 'The London views form part of a series on which the artist has been working for several years and which he intends to continue'.

This painting shows a view from Ludgate Circus, looking down Ludgate Hill towards St. Paul's. The vehicles would appear to indicate a date about 1910. John R. Day, the Manager of the London Transport Collection, writes that in 1910 'there were still over 2000 Hansom Cabs licenced in London but there were also more than 6000 motor taxi-cabs. Both these types of cab appear in the lower half of the picture. I am also inclined to think that the buses (with the possible exception of the nearest one) are motor-buses - the horse-bus was virtually finished in London by the end of 1911' (letter of 25 July 1975).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.58-9, reproduced p.58

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