Charles Conder

Spring by the Sea


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Not on display

Charles Conder 1868–1909
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 506 × 918 mm
frame: 747 × 1155 × 50 mm
Bequeathed by Hans Velten 1931

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Conder was trained in Australia and Paris, before returning to his native London. He liked to paint the South Coast, sometimes making views of a real place, and at other times, as in this painting, inventing an imaginary reminiscence of a place. The background and atmosphere look like Swanage in Dorset, where Conder often stayed. The figures and the flowering cherry trees in the foreground are a fantasy, and an evocation of 'Spring'. In sprawling half naked, brandishing a mirror and wearing imaginary cloaks, these girls recall the eighteenth-century fantasies of Watteau. They also correspond to the melancholy mood of the novels of Marcel Proust, one of which is centred on a 'little band' of young girls on holiday by the sea.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

N04578 SPRING BY THE SEA c. 1905
Not inscribed.
Canvas, 20×36 (51×91·5).
Bequeathed by Hans Velten 1931.
Coll: Purchased by Hans Velten from the Leicester Galleries 1913.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, January 1913 (55); Tate Gallery, July–September 1927 (100).
Lit: Gibson, 1914, p.47, repr. pl.51; Rothenstein, 1938, pp.47, 220, 259, repr. facing p.208.

Although the setting is reminiscent of the ‘Swanage Bay’ series, it is quite possible that this picture was not painted directly from nature but from memory, with the flower-wreathed female figures added. The date has been suggested by Rothenstein, op. cit., p.47. Compare this painting with N04939, for which the date 1905 is documented.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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