Oil paint on canvas
813 x 660 mm
Inscribed ‘C. GINNER’ in green oil paint bottom right, and various notices on the vehicles and buildings.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Technique and condition
How to citeRoy Perry, 'Technique and Condition', June 2004, in David Fraser Jenkins, ‘Piccadilly Circus 1912 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
The vehicle with the registration number ‘LN 5834’ on the left is a taxi. The ‘GENERAL’ on the sides of the two buses shows that both were owned or operated by the London General Omnibus Company. The small plate on the nearer bus inscribed ‘B5’ indicates that it was based at Battersea Garage. ‘B type’ buses were introduced in 1910.2 ‘B1218’, the nearer of the two buses seen in the picture, appears to have an illuminated box at the front for the route number. If so, and it is not at all clear, Ginner was up to date, as this light was first installed in the summer of 1912.3 He liked crowded scenes and overlapping details, and in his picture of the forecourt of Victoria Station, The Sunlit Square, Victoria Station 1913 (fig.3), he again included details of buses, showing them in a sharply receding perspective.
At the Royal Academy exhibitions in 1910–12 paintings of central London were rare, with the striking exception of an artist a generation older, Arthur Hacker (fig.6). Hacker was elected a Royal Academician in 1910 and, suddenly, having been a portrait and figure painter all his life, sent four paintings of Piccadilly Circus and the area nearby, including the interior of the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties, to the Academy for exhibition in 1911. The reason for this change of subject is not known, but the pictures are dark, Whistlerian scenes of the evening by artificial light. They may have depended on the striking effect of improved street lighting. Ginner’s kind of insistent close focus on people and their surroundings had hardly been attempted since William Logsdail’s elaborate views of Victorian London with crowds of people, including portraits of his friends, as in for example St Martin-in-the-Fields 1888 (Tate N01621, fig.7).
Style and reception
How to cite
David Fraser Jenkins, ‘Piccadilly Circus 1912 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