The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Charles Ginner From a Hampstead Window 1923

Ginner’s watercolour shows a reversed view, as seen in a mirror, of Hampstead in north London after a fall of snow. Using pen and ink and watercolour in soft browns and purples, Ginner has drawn the buildings in great detail, carefully articulating each individual brick.
Charles Ginner 1878–1952
From a Hampstead Window
1923
Ink, watercolour and graphite on paper
443 x 314 mm
Inscribed ‘C. GINNER’ in ink bottom left
Purchased (Duveen Drawings Fund) 1924
N03873

Entry

Ginner exhibited watercolours at the Goupil Gallery in January 1924; this one was made just before that exhibition after a fall of snow. In his second notebook it is recorded as the last item made in 1923, and so was likely to have been drawn in December.1 It is a finished watercolour for display, not a preparatory drawing for a painting. Painted from a mirror, it shows a reversed view of Hampstead as seen from the attic of 61 Hampstead High Street, the address where Ginner lived from 1919 to 1938.
The wide margins of the paper are full of colour notes, some of them linked to numbered places on the edge of the picture. On the right these are partly covered with dabs of watercolour, where Ginner was blotting the brush or testing colours as the picture was painted. The colour notes indicate Ginner’s particular interest in bricks and chimneys. although they are difficult to read and the words in this list might not all be accurate. At the top it reads:
[?]woodwork | green ochre white
Running down the left-hand side:
[?]church | ochre | grey
Railing | Black | green
chimneys | black brown
yellow | chimneys
Chimneys Black | red
Redtiled | roof
Ochre
Black | Brown | reddish | ochre | variation
At the bottom of the paper:
Ochre ... | vermilion
Black | red brick | redder
Black red bricks | red verm[ilion] sign | and ... letters
Orange Bricks | red [?]& w.
Black ochre
Black red Bricks | and red [?]& w.
And running down the right-hand side:
Factory | blue grey | ochre wall
Background | ... | grey
Yellow chim[ney]
2/3 | O.O.B
4 C ... | Brown | Black
5 ochre | ...
6 Red Black
7 ditto
Ochre | orange, black | wall
viridian | green grey | woodwork | white ochre
The railings as seen from Ginner’s window are there today just as in the watercolour, and one building in the street is the same.2 The church spire belonged to Trinity Presbyterian Church, which has been demolished. The work appears to have been drawn accurately, but then the whole image – window, railings and view – are reversed from left to right, as if a preparatory drawing had been turned upside down and a copy made. This was noted in the 1964 Tate Gallery catalogue.3 Responding to the Assistant Keeper Mary Chamot’s queries, Ginner’s sister Ruby Ginner Dyer replied:
His book does not say whether it was painted from a mirror, and I do not remember the picture – I know he amused himself sometimes by changing things to make a better composition, and I remember his saying to me once ‘If I don’t like the place where God put the hill, I pick the hill up and put it somewhere else to make a good picture’! He may have done that in the case of the church and the chimney! I don’t know.4
The reference in Colour magazine for the summer of 1924 shows that the watercolour was then on display at the Tate Gallery. The author described it as a welcome appearance of modern art at the gallery:
The Tate Gallery is coming more and more up to date. On a recent hurried visit we noticed in what has been called the Bolshevist Room, a water-colour by Charles Ginner – a recent acquisition, if we are not mistaken, and done in the customary detailed Ginner method.5
Ginner often included the window and window-sill in his views. His oil painting Roof Tops (Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston),6 for example, includes a similar window and guard rail in front of a view of a different town.

David Fraser Jenkins
May 2005

Notes

1
Tate Archive TGA 9319/2, p.123. The drawing listed two before this work is entitled Hampstead Roofs, Frost.
2
As of April 2005.
3
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, vol.1, London 1964, p.239.
4
Mrs Ruby Ginner Dyer, letter to Mary Chamot, 15 August 1957, Tate Catalogue file. In her next letter of 22 August she offered the Tate ‘sheaves’ of his press cuttings ‘back to the beginning of his work’, but Chamot did not respond.
5
Colour, August 1924, p.24.
6
Oil on canvas, 9150 x 610 mm; reproduced in Royal Academy of Arts Bicentenary Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1968, p.97.

How to cite

David Fraser Jenkins, ‘From a Hampstead Window 1923 by Charles Ginner’, catalogue entry, May 2005, 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/charles-ginner-from-a-hampstead-window-r1139232, accessed 18 August 2019.