Charles Ginner

The Café Royal


Not on display

Charles Ginner 1878–1952
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 635 × 483 mm
frame: 878 × 725 × 100 mm
Presented by Edward Le Bas 1939

Display caption

The Café Royal in Regent Street was well known as a meeting place for London artists and writers. The people in this picture have not been identified. The Café was often painted, although not particularly by members of the Camden Town Group, who preferred to depict more ordinary places. Two other paintings by Ginner of areas in central London close to the Café Royal are displayed nearby. They are of Piccadilly Circus and the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Ginner grew up in France and was trained in Paris, at first as an architect. He moved to London in 1909. He continued to paint landscapes in the style of Camden Town into the 1940s, and was the longest surviving member of the Group.

Gallery label, August 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry



Three central London scenes that Ginner painted soon after his move to the capital in 1910 belong to Tate: this work, Victoria Embankment Gardens 1912 (Tate T03841) and Piccadilly Circus 1912 (Tate T03096).1 Although Ginner’s fellow Camden Town Group colleagues often painted London streets and public places, they did not choose such glamorous and central locations, nor did they paint the city in a way that is so saturated in detail. The strong colours, lack of shading, thick paint, simple rectilinear designs and realistic content in Ginner’s paintings were highly unusual. As he completed his paintings, Ginner recorded details about them in a series of four notebooks now held in the Tate Archive (fig.1).2 These are the titles in date order of all the London pictures which he lists up until 1914, with owners added where known:
  The Café Royal 1911 (Tate N05050)
  Leicester Square 1912 (Brighton Museum and Art Gallery)3
  Victoria Embankment Gardens 1912 (Tate T03841)
  Piccadilly Circus 1912 (Tate T03096)
  The Circus 1913 (Leeds City Art Gallery)4
  London Bridge 1913 (Museum of London)5
  The Sunlit Square, Victoria 1913 (Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport)6
  The Angel, Islington 1913 (private collection)7
  The Fruit Stall 1914 (Yale Center for British Art)8
  The Tube Station, Kings Cross 1914 (whereabouts unknown)
  Clerkenwell 1914 (whereabouts unknown)
Some of these locations follow Ginner’s addresses: after leaving his flat in Battersea he moved to Chesterfield Street (now Crestfield Street) near King’s Cross and he often visited his sister who lived in Islington. But most of the eleven pictures are of the most popular parts of central London, and as a group are unique. The paintings now look as if they were a series deliberately put together to cover the city centre, but this was not necessarily the case. Ginner did not show them together and was careful to choose a variety of subjects to exhibit at the Camden Town Group shows in 1911 and 1912. It was not until 1915 when the art critic Frank Rutter described some of the artist’s pictures of ‘the industrial cities of Yorkshire’ as an ‘historic series’ that any were taken as a survey of a particular place.9

The Café Royal

Style and reception


David Fraser Jenkins
May 2005


They are the earliest of his pictures in the Tate collection.
Tate Archive TGA 9319.
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, Christie’s, London 1988 (120).
Reproduced ibid. (140, as ‘The Circus, Islington’).
Reproduced ibid. (122, as ‘London Bridge; Adelaide House and Fresh Wharf from the Southern End’).
Reproduced ibid. (121, as ‘Sunlit Square, Victoria Station’).
Reproduced ibid. (169).
Reproduced in Christie’s, London, 17 November 1978 (lot 24, as ‘The Fruit Stall’) and This Other Eden: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, exhibition catalogue, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven 1998 (74, as ‘Fruit Stall, King’s Cross’).
Sunday Times, 24 January 1915, p.13.
As told to John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters, vol.1, London 1962, p.213.
Charles Ginner, ‘Neo-Realism’, New Age, 1 January 1914, p.272. The visit is mentioned by Frank Rutter, implying that Ginner was already an admirer of Van Gogh, in Frank Rutter, ‘The Work of Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore: A Definitive Survey’, Studio, vol.101, no.456, March 1931, p.208.
Manet and the Post-Impressionists, Grafton Galleries, London, November 1910–January 1911.
J.B. de la Faille, L’Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh: Catalogue raisonné, Paris and Brussels 1928, no.549. As Intorno di Ristorante, in Paolo Lacaldano (ed.), L’opera pittorica completa di Van Gogh, Milan 1977, no.538.
Anna Gruetzner Robins, Modern Art in Britain 1910–1914, exhibition catalogue, Barbican Art Gallery, London 1997, pp.120–1.
Reproduced in Charles Ginner 1878–1952, exhibition catalogue, Fine Art Society, London 1985 (3).
E.649–1948. Reproduced in Simon Watney, English Post-Impressionism, London 1980, fig.22, p.40.
Tate Archive TGA 9319/1, pp.XXXVI–VII. Ginner gave the pages of the first volume Roman numerals.
Description des Ouvrages de Peinture ... Offerts à la France par M. Edmund Davis, exhibition catalogue, Musée National du Luxembourg, Paris 1915, p.80.
A mazagran is a glass of coffee, but here probably meant a coffee and cognac in that kind of glass.
Guy Deghy and Keith Waterhouse, Café Royal: Ninety Years of Bohemia, London 1955, p.129. See also Ashley Gibson, Postscript to Adventure, London 1930, p.30.
Three of these illustrations are reproduced in Fine Art Society 1985 (1–3).
Reported by Ruby Ginner Dyer, the artist’s sister, letter to Mary Chamot, 11 August 1957, Tate Catalogue file.
Horace Brodzky’s recollections of the café mention Ginner as a frequent visitor, in The Café Royalists, exhibition catalogue, Parkin Gallery, London 1972.
At the Café Royal, pastel on canvas, 610 x 508 mm (private collection); reproduced in Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec: London and Paris 1870–1910, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2005 (33).
Lent to National Museums and Galleries of Wales; reproduced in Harold Gilman 1876–1919, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 1981 (30).
A pictorial key of the people in Allinson’s painting is reproduced in Deghy and Waterhouse 1955, opposite p.96.
A study for ‘The Café Royal, 1911’, 305 x 205 mm (private collection, London); reproduced in Modern British Paintings 1880–2002, exhibition catalogue, Richard Green, London 2002 (22).
Rothenstein 1962, p.216.
Beatrix Terry, ‘As Others See Us’, Art News, 15 July 1911, p.75.
See Benjamin Fairfax Hall, Paintings by Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner in the Collection of Edward Le Bas, London 1965, and James Beechey, ‘Edward Le Bas’, Charleston Magazine, no.16, Autumn–Winter 1997, pp.37–43.
The sale is listed in the Day Book of the Redfern Gallery for 20 January 1937. At the same time Le Bas bought Gore’s Winchcombe for £16 16s 0d and Gilman’s Woman Asleep for £31.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop