The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Author unknown, ‘The Camden Town Group’

Yorkshire Observer, 1 December 1912.

The Camden Town Group.
The third exhibition of the Camden Town group was opened to-day at the Carfax Gallery. The group consists of the same sixteen members as it did last year. Mr. Spencer Gore is still its president. All are exhibiting at the Carfax with the notable exceptions of Mr. Augustus John and Mr. J. D. Innes – with whose remarkable work at the New English one must needs be content at the moment – and Mr. Duncan Grant. The Camden Town group may be said to control the output of the best English post impressionist work, and the Carfax to-day seemed like an annexe to the Grafton Galleries. Mr. Walter Sickert is so brilliant a draughtsman and colourist that one cannot take very kindly to a picture like his “Summer in Naples.” It shows a British navvy fully dressed and a dirty-complexioned woman with nothing to cover her at all sitting back to back upon a small bed in an East End of London attic. His “Chicken” is a pretty portrait of a girl, with nothing about it to suggest the poultry yard. Mr. M. C. Drummond, though in the forefront of the “advanced” school, does not trouble about being obscure. Rather he makes a painful effort in the opposite direction. His “St. James’s Park” could be recognised by any child of London, for all that his Whitehall Court, War Office, and Horse Guards are [q]uite out of drawing and painted in some pale green Liberty art shade, and in spite of his lake being like a skating rink and one gentleman in the little group upon its margin being dressed in an overcoat of pillar-box red. Close by are Mr. H. Lamb’s two portrait studies. One cannot help wondering why this artist is permitted to belong to the group. His work is beautiful, clean and ordinary. One comes suddenly upon these two heads in the midst of a wall covered almost entirely with sticky messy riddles, and one finds perfect drawing and feeling and modelling. The effect is very strange. Nearly all the members show interesting work, and here and there, in spite of themselves apparently, it is beautifu land [sic] intelligible. There is Mr. J. B. Manson’s “Moonlight and Snow,” for example, Mr. Lucien Pissarro’s “Stamford Brook Green (Snow),” Mr. S. F. Gore’s “The Pond,” and others. Mr. W. Bayes is always pleasing, he is not typically Camden Town.
The Art of Mr. Wyndham Lewis.
 But the place of honour at the Carfax Gallery is given to Mr. Wyndham Lewis with his big painting – the largest in the room – described in the catalogue as “Danse.” No one who visited the Camden Town group exhibition last year will have forgotten Mr. Lewis’s “Port de Mer,” his “Au Marche [sic],” and the “Virgin and Child.” They created a mild sensation, but Mr. Lewis had not really got into his stride twelve months ago. He has “advanced” rapidly since then, and is now the most pronounced Cubist in this country. He has fully proved his claim to this position by the work he shows at the post impressionist exhibition at the Grafton Galleries. His “Mother and Child” has proved an inexhaustible source of interest, speculation and amusement according to the tastes and understanding of those discussing it. “Danse” will probably prove an even greater “draw.” A conglomeration of squares and crescents and triangles, it is painted in cold browns, greys, purples and whites. Its design is quite unconnected with its title, and only by an almost painful stretch of the imagination can one discern anything remotely resembling human forms or features. It may possibly represent Mr. Lewis’s way of hiding up the alleged barbarities of the “Turkey trot” or the “Bunny hug,” but frankly it is a displeasing and, I would venture to say, quite unnecessary piece of work. It will be interesting to note the influence which this painter exerts on susceptible young artists within the next year or two.

How to cite

Author unknown, ‘The Camden Town Group’, in Yorkshire Observer, 1 December 1912, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/author-unknown-the-camden-town-group-r1104220, accessed 16 June 2019.