The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Author unknown, ‘Art. Reality and Romance’

Truth, 28 June 1911.

THE desire for some new thing has never been treated with the apathy that surrounds the unimportant. To one man it is a virtue, to the other a crime of the deepest dye. But at least it makes for the fairer distribution of appreciation. The new thing is the thing of the instant, and, since there is nothing new, the search for it merely means the appearance and reappearance of the same things each in its turn. Fifty years ago it would have been difficult for the conscientious visitor to be enthusiastic both over the realism of the Camden Town Group, now exhibiting at Carfax Gallery, and over the romanticism of Mr. Tom Mostyn as displayed at the Goupil Gallery. But the more ardent search for the new thing brings both, so to put it, within the same line of vision, and makes it possible for both to seem notable manifestations of very different kinds.
Before the Post-Impressionist exhibition, the Camden Town Group would, I suppose, have been Post-Impressionists, possibly under a different name. But they are not only intelligible Post-Impressionists, but spontaneous interpreters of life from an original point of view. Mr. R.P. Bevan, for instance indulges in unaffected sincerity in visible atmosphere; Mr. H. Gilman paints an “Old Woman” with a poignant truth that the majority would find unnecessary; Mr. Drummond’s “Paddington Station” makes the average interpreter of real things seem a smooth-tongued liar; while Mr. Ratcliffe and Mr. Manson might almost be termed the “pretty” painters of the Post-Impressionist movement. In each and every case, and whether you like them or whether you don’t, there is no pose. Possibly the younger painters of the movement have drawn a moral from the over-emphasis with which their elders met opposition.
The simplest and most harmonious painter of this new group is Mr. H. Lamb, whose “Man Fishing” has all the spirit of Millet, while treated with the brevity that marks realities of any kind. Mr. M.G. Lightfoot achieves by more ordinary methods unusual beauty of tone in “Frank,” a little boy leaning against a wall. The poise of the little figure is beautiful; the same subtle harmonious blending of tone appears in somewhat less degree in “Mother and Child”; but both pictures show a freshness of vision and mastery of means which should take Mr. Lightfoot far. A fine landscape by Mr. John, and some grim realistic sketches by Mr. Walter Sickert are among the pictures of this very interesting show.

How to cite

Author unknown, ‘Art. Reality and Romance’, in Truth, 28 June 1911, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012,, accessed 20 May 2024.