Charles Shannon

Les Marmitons


Not on display

Charles Shannon 1863–1937
Oil paint on canvas on board
Support: 390 × 366 mm
frame: 490 × 468 × 55 mm
Purchased 1942

Display caption

These two young girls, dressed up as male kitchen servants or ‘marmitons’, are caught unawares. They appear self conscious in their new guise, as if their childhood game has been interrupted by an uninvited onlooker.

Children’s love of dressing up and pretending to be someone else can appear to confirm that certain behaviour is a ‘natural’ part of childhood, as if children were the same at all times and in all cultures. The fact that the two girls are wearing seventeenth-century costume seems to reflect this idea.

Gallery label, July 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘C H S 97’ b.l.
Canvas, 15×14 1/4 (38×36).
Purchased from Christie, Manson & Woods (Knapping Fund) 1942.
Coll: Sir Edmund Davis by 1915, sold Christie's, 15 May 1942 (153), as ‘A Sketch for “Marmitons”’.
Lit: T. Martin Wood, ‘The Edmund Davis Collection II’ in Studio, LXIV, 1915, p.232.

Although described as a study for ‘Les Marmitons’, a picture which was also formerly in the collection of Sir Edmund Davis (repr. Studio, LXIV, 1915, p.236), the composition of N05363 differs considerably from the final work. The two female figures in seventeenth-century fancy dress are common to both, but are grouped more closely in half-seated poses in the Tate sketch. The finished painting was exhibited at the International Society's third exhibition in 1901 (88) as ‘Rose and Blanche’ and was included in the Davis Sale, 15 May 1942 (147), as ‘Les Marmitons’, 41×37 in. The girl on the left is probably Miss Kate Hargood, who is identified by George as the sitter for ‘A Souvenir of Van Dyck’, also of 1897 (repr. E. B. G[eorge], Charles Shannon, 1924, pl.I), where she appears in almost the same pose.

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


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