The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

M. S., ‘Other Exhibitions. The Camden Town Group’

The Art News, 15 June 1911, p.78.

The Camden Town Group.
  At the Carfax Gallery (Bury Street, St. James’s) the very latest art society, the Camden Town Group, is holding its first exhibition. The interest of this exhibition can be gauged when it is realized that the members of this group are Mr. Walter Sickert, Mr. Lucien Pissarro, Mr. S. F. Gore, Mr. Harold Gilman, Mr. R. P. Bevan, and others whom we have for long been accustomed to distinguish as the Fitzroy Street School. The first impression received is a surprising sense of variety, in spite of the fact that many of the exhibitors come under the common heading of luminists. Mr. Spencer F. Gore is always preoccupied with atmosphere, whether it be out of doors as in the fascinating presentation of ‘Mornington Crescent,’ or indoors as in ‘The Bed Sitting Room,’ or in the heated theatre as in those particularly individual ballet scenes ‘Scene III.’ and ‘A Stage Sunrise.’ The subtle differentiation between the effects produced by these varying conditions of light is expressed with convincing fidelity through charming colour schemes and decorative designs. Mr. Lucien Pissarro is also an exponent of luminism, yet his colour schemes and his handling of pigment differ entirely from Mr. Gore’s, though equally expressive. Mr. Pissarro has no patent prescription, and the observant will note the different brush work in the foreground of ‘Buttercups, Colchester,’ and ‘View of Colchester.’ It may be pointed out that the flowered grass of the one and the sloping hillside of the other called for different treatment, but though this might be intellectually recognized by others, how many would be capable of handling the two divergent styles so satisfactorily? A further contrast in methods, again with the object of expressing atmosphere, is afforded by Mr. R. P. Bevan’s ‘In Sussex.’ Possibly some will feel surprised at the high-keyed colour of the grass; these are advised to study grass in the bright but pale sunshine of early spring, and then the true expressiveness of the delicate touches in Mr. Bevan’s foreground will be recognized. For sheer glory of colour it is difficult indeed to surpass Mr. C. Ginner. One hesitates to use the phrase “crushed jewels,” which has been so often applied to Monticelli, but ‘The Sunlit Wall’ really glows like jewels themselves. It is quite Bacchic in its voluptuous beauty. Beauty of colour wedded to a strikingly decorative design is the chief characteristic of Mr. M. Drummond’s ‘Paddington Station.’ It is much lower in key than Mr. Ginner’s vivid canvases, but it has a subdued richness which is most attractive. Still lower in tone are the intensely personal studies ‘The Camden Town Murder, Series 1,’ and ‘The Camden Town Murder, Series 2,’ by Mr. Walter Sickert. To those who take exception to Mr. Sickert’s choice of subject it might be suggested that as Rembrandt found a fine problem of colour in a butcher shop, so Mr. Sickert finds in the sordid surroundings of a tawdry tragedy a fascinating problem of colour, design, and suggestion of form. So completely does the artistic presentment of the subject minimize the gruesomeness of the theme chosen that the rhythm of the design and the charm of colour prevents the spectator from feeling any special sense of horror. Mr. H. Lamb reveals a strong personality in the subtly modelled though directly painted ‘Boy’s Head.’ The colour, though exceedingly individual, gives convincing actuality.
Of Mr. Walter Bayes’s four exhibits the most interesting are ‘Character Sketches for Lord Dunsany’s play “The Gods of the Mountain”’ and ‘Design for Part of a Stage Scene for the Haymarket Theatre.’ Mr. Augustus John is represented by two landscapes, both characterized by great beauty of colour. In spite of a slight sense of restlessness ‘Lyn [sic] Cynlog’ has the further attraction of simplified form. Subtle and delicate colour is the most apparent quality in Mr. H. Gilman’s ‘The Snow Scene,’ but to this must be added expressiveness and actuality. These qualities and fine characterization distinguish the very personal ‘Portrait,’ also exhibited by Mr. Gilman. Mr. J. B. Manson shows a pleasing study of autumn foliage in ‘The Avenue, St. Valery-sur-Somme,’ [sic] and an attractive ‘Child’s Head,’ characterized by purity of colour. It will be seen that though this is an exhibition of a small group of painters, visitors need have no fear of monotony.
M. S.

How to cite

M. S., ‘Other Exhibitions. The Camden Town Group’, in The Art News, 15 June 1911, p.78, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012,, accessed 20 April 2024.