Arthur Hacker, The Annunciation 1892 . Tate

Room 8 in Walk Through British Art


A roaring success

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If you thought you knew British art, visit and think again … there is no better place to go

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Sir George Clausen, The Girl at the Gate  1889

Clausen painted this picture in the village of Cookham Dean in Berkshire, where he lived. His model was Mary Baldwin, the Clausen family nanny. She was from the village and around 16 years old at the time. Clausen was one of the ‘rural naturalists’, a group of late 19th-century artists who painted scenes of country life. They were known for their realistic depictions of rural workers. Many of the group were influenced by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage. They often developed their style while living and working together in international artists’ communities.

Gallery label, April 2021

artworks in 1890

Ralph Peacock, Ethel  1897

This portrait was painted the year the Tate Gallery was founded, and was one of the most popular pictures when it went on display in the 1900s. Peacock’s model, Ethel Brignall, was 14 when he painted her. He married her sister Edith a few years later. Peacock enjoyed considerable success as a portrait painter at the onset of his career but was largely forgotten by the art establishment by the middle of the 20th century.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Robert Brough, Fantaisie en Folie  1897

A woman with a haughty poise and striking profile looks down on a laughing Buddha, touching the statuette with her pendant. The title is best translated as ‘Unbridled Fantasy’. The picture’s misty brushwork and harmonious, neutral palette and the woman’s mysterious gesture suggests mood rather than narrative. The work was praised internationally, and it was widely exhibited. Brough was a successful portrait painter, but died young, aged 34, after a train accident. He seems to have regarded Fantaisie en Folie as his artistic testament, as he left it to the Tate Gallery in his will.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Aubrey Beardsley, Caprice. Verso: Masked Woman with a White Mouse  c.1894

Beardsley was one of the best known illustrators of the 1890s. This is his only known oil painting. Unusually, it is double-sided. Caprice was painted first. It likely shows a theatre performance. A young white woman is led through a doorway by a person of short stature in a fanciful 18th-century costume. Though unfinished, the figure appears to be a person of colour. Beardsley regularly depicted people with dwarfism. In his lifetime, they were the subjects of cultural stereotyping, and were predominantly seen as sources of entertainment.

Beardsley painted Masked Woman with a White Mouse after Caprice. The identity of the woman is unknown. It is possible that, as in Caprice, the subject is a fantasy figure. Beardsley seems to have preferred this side and hung it on the wall in the house he bought in Pimlico, London. The painter Walter Sickert gave Beardsley some guidance while he was experimenting with oil painting.

Gallery label, December 2020

artworks in 1890

Aubrey Beardsley, Cover Design for ‘The Yellow Book’ Vol.I  1894

In 1894 Beardsley was appointed art editor of what he described as a 'new literary and artistic quarterly' aimed at artists and writers who 'cannot get their best stuff accepted in the conventional magazines'. All the cover designs were printed in black on yellow cloth boards, in imitation of French novels. This design for the first number shows a pair of masked carnival-goers who, in keeping with the subversive character of the journal, appear both lewd and sinister. From the start the new magazine provoked an outcry. The Times remarked on the 'repulsiveness and insolence' of the first cover.

Gallery label, February 2004

artworks in 1890

John Singer Sargent, The Black Brook  c.1908

The subject of this work is the artist’s niece, Rose-Marie Ormond, who was 15 when he painted her. She is shown by a stream in Aosta, northern Italy. Sargent captures the movement of light and shadow on the stream, yellow flowers and the fabric of Ormond’s dress with thick, loosely handled paint. Ormond was Sargent’s travel companion and one of his favourite subjects. She features in a number of his Alpine pictures, which he painted in an impressionistic style, either in oil or watercolour.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Walter Richard Sickert, Aubrey Beardsley  1894

It is thought that this painting shows the artist Aubrey Beardsley walking through Hampstead Church graveyard. He had been attending the unveiling of a memorial to the Romantic poet John Keats. At this time Beardsley was also living with tuberculosis, the disease which had killed Keats. Though elegantly dressed, Beardsley’s figure appears emaciated. The subdued background adds to the poignancy of the image; Beardsley died four years later. The painting was published in the journal Yellow Book when Beardsley was art editor.

Gallery label, November 2021

artworks in 1890

Walter Richard Sickert, Interior of St Mark’s, Venice  1895–6

This interior shows the high altar of the cathedral of San Marco in Venice. Sickert first visited the city in 1895 and lived there for a year. He wrote that Venice was ‘mostly sunny and warmish and on cold days I do interiors of St. Mark’s’. Like the French Impressionists, Sickert was interested in the effects of both natural and artificial light conveyed in touches of paint. He described his working method at this time as ‘open and loose, freely, with a full brush and full colour’.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

John Young-Hunter, My Lady’s Garden  1899

The model for this work was the artist’s first wife, and fellow painter, Mary Young-Hunter. The couple met as students at the Royal Academy and married the year this was painted. The setting is the grounds of Holland House, in Kensington, London. Art critic and painter A.L. Baldry described John and Mary Young-Hunter as ‘new Pre-Raphaelites’, who explored imaginative and symbolic subjects

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Norman Garstin, Mount’s Bay and Tolcarne from Trewidden Farm Footpath with Alethea and her Mother  c.1898

Garstin painted this picture outdoors, or en plein air, like many of his works. It includes his wife Louisa Jones, and his daughter Alethea, who became a painter herself. His small, freely painted landscapes catch impressionistic light effects. Originally from Ireland, Garstin trained in Antwerp and Paris and moved to Cornwall by 1886. He was a teacher and writer as well as an artist. He was a member of the New English Art Club and the Newlyn School.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Elizabeth Forbes, Volendam, Holland, from the Zuidende  ?1895

Volendam is a small fishing village near Amsterdam. The 17th-century Hervormde church can be seen in the distance, and beyond that, the masts of ships moored in the harbour. Volendam was popular with artists in the 19th century. Forbes made several trips to the area. Inspired by French impressionist artists, she liked to paint everyday scenes outdoors. Forbes was a Canadian and exhibited internationally. She lived in Newlyn in Cornwall, where she was a leading member of the Newlyn School and co-founded an art school.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

William Stott of Oldham, Le Passeur (The Ferryman)  1881

Here, two girls are pictured waiting for a ferry-boat to cross a river at dusk. It has been suggested that the title could be a reference to Charon, the ferryman of Greek mythology. Charon crosses the river Styx, the border between Earth and the Underworld. The dimming light and the flowing water may represent different phases of life and the passage from life to death. Le Passeur was painted on the shore of the river Loing in north-central France. It was made while Stott was staying at the international artists’ colony of Grez-sur-Loing.

Gallery label, May 2021

artworks in 1890

Sir William Rothenstein, Parting at Morning  1891

A partially dressed woman looks out at the viewer in this life-size chalk drawing. The verse inscribed at the bottom right is a quotation from a poem by Robert Browning with the same title as the picture. This suggests the morning after a brief sexual encounter. And straight was a path of gold for him, And the need of a world of men for me. Where the poem takes the woman’s point of view, the painting provides the perspective of the man. Rothenstein was a 19-year-old student in Paris when he painted it.

Gallery label, September 2020

artworks in 1890

Charles Conder, Springtime  1892

artworks in 1890

Art in this room

N01612: The Girl at the Gate
Sir George Clausen The Girl at the Gate 1889
N01672: Ethel
Ralph Peacock Ethel 1897
N01956: Fantaisie en Folie
Robert Brough Fantaisie en Folie 1897
N03815: Caprice. Verso: Masked Woman with a White Mouse
Aubrey Beardsley Caprice. Verso: Masked Woman with a White Mouse c.1894
N04171: Cover Design for ‘The Yellow Book’ Vol.I
Aubrey Beardsley Cover Design for ‘The Yellow Book’ Vol.I 1894
N04783: The Black Brook
John Singer Sargent The Black Brook c.1908

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