The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Harold Gilman Study for 'Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord' c.1913

Harold Gilman often used his drawings as studies from which to create larger oil paintings, but seldom exhibited them until late in life. Although not the final study for Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord (Tate N03684), this pen and ink drawing is heavily notated with descriptions of colour values and explanations of textures and form.
Harold Gilman 1876–1919
Study for ‘Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord’
Black ink on paper
230 x 290 mm
Inscribed by the artist with numerous colour notes
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1955


Harold Gilman 'Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord' c.1913
Harold Gilman
Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord c.1913
Tate N03684
Both of Tate’s drawings by Harold Gilman are detailed studies for paintings (fig.1) squared for transfer to canvas. Gilman invariably based his later oils on drawings, rather than painting directly from nature. Although a gifted and innovative draughtsman, for much of his career Gilman’s drawings were made purely as functional tools rather than as ends in themselves. It was only in his last years that he contributed a small number to exhibitions. In 1919 Charles Ginner explained that Gilman
at first, some eight years ago [1911], always painted direct from nature. He believed firmly in this, a result of his admiration for the Impressionist teaching, but he finally arrived at working from drawings, finding in this method a fuller self-expression. This resulted in his producing a wonderful series, some of which, like his drawing for the picture of ‘Mother and Child’1 ... rival Degas or Van Gogh. They were all done with the sole object of being used for his paintings: curiously enough he did not seem to take much account of them, and he showed them at exhibitions with reluctance and hesitation.2

Robert Upstone
May 2009


1917–18; there are a number of versions of this drawing, see Harold Gilman 1876–1919, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 1981 (92–5).
Charles Ginner, ‘Harold Gilman: An Appreciation’, in Memorial Exhibition of Works by the Late Harold Gilman, exhibition catalogue, Leicester Galleries, London 1919, p.7.

How to cite

Robert Upstone, ‘Study for ‘Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord’ c.1913 by Harold Gilman’, catalogue entry, May 2009, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012,, accessed 13 April 2024.