Richard Carline

Sea Shore


Not on display

Richard Carline 1896–1980
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 940 × 562 mm
frame: 1020 × 649 × 58 mm
Presented by Mrs Nancy Carline, the artist's widow 1983

Display caption

A solitary woman gazes across endlessly rolling waves to a fierce storm out at sea. Is she waiting for someone's return? In 1920 the picture might have been seen as a dramatisation of the recent experiences of many real women. The subdued colouring and restrained composition give a sense of the sadness and dislocation of the post-war era. The mast that rises like a Greek stela, or gravestone, combines with the stylised waves to create a formal grid-like structure. As an Official War Artist in 1918 and 1919, Carline had made drawings from the air. The high horizon here is reminiscent of these aerial sketches.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03597 SEA SHORE 1920

Oil on canvas 37 × 22 1/8 (940 × 562)
Inscribed ‘Richard Carline 1920.’ b.r. and ‘sea shore/Richard Carline/14A Downshire Hill/Hampstead’ on top turnover of canvas
Presented by the artist's widow, Mrs Nancy Carline 1983
Exh: New English Art Club 62nd Exhibition, RWS Galleries, June–July 1920 (51); The Spencers and Carlines in Hampstead in the 1920s, Odney Club, Cookham, May–June 1973 (Richard Carline 3, as ‘The jetty at Seaford’); Paintings 1914–24, South London Art Gallery, May–June 1974 (21); Spencers and Carlines, New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, October–November 1980, City Art Gallery, York, December 1980–January 1981 (123, as ‘The Breakwater, Seaford’); Richard Carline 1896–1980, Camden Arts Centre, June–July 1983 (10, repr. as ‘The jetty, Seaford’)

In April 1920, Richard Carline, his parents, brother Sydney, sister Hilda and Stanley and Gilbert Spencer stayed at Seaford, on the Sussex coast between Newhaven and Eastbourne. A letter from Stanley Spencer to William Rothenstein dated 23 April 1920, written from Seaford and published in Rothenstein's Men and Memories 1900–1922, 11, 1931, pp. 348–9, describes a painting expedition by the whole party on the nearby Downs.

The entry on the Tate's picture in the catalogue of the exhibition at Cookham in 1973 states, almost certainly on information from the artist, that it was painted from memory. However, Mrs Nancy Carline owns a watercolour sketch for the painting, 22 1/2 × 14 (571 × 355), inscribed by the artist on the reverse to the effect that the watercolour was painted at Seaford.

Mrs Nancy Carline writes (letter, 20 March 1986) that ‘the sketch in particular reminds me of some of his war time aerial sketches and paintings, in which the skyline is very high and one looks down on the sea and breakwater almost as if viewed from an aeroplane, and I always think that this aspect of his early work can't be stressed too strongly - in fact there are very few of his compositions which have a low horizon’. As an official war artist, Richard Carline made sketches from the air of battle grounds in France in 1918, and in 1919, with his brother Sydney (also an official war artist), made many aerial views of war zones in the Middle East.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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