Lot 9: HAROLD GILMAN 1876-1919
Modern British Art
December 3, 2003
London, United Kingdom
SIGNED AND DATED (MAKER'S MARKS)
Gilman, like Sickert, was interested in the direct and honest study of everyday life, with integrity of drawing forming the underlying compositional structure to his work. He was interested in observing people as they went about their domestic activities, making particular note of the way in which they occupied rooms and shared spaces with inanimate objects. The paraphenalia of boarding room life and north London lodging houses was thus both readily available and of particular interest to the artist as a source of subject-matter.
Hubert Wellington, in his introduction to Gilman's exhibition catalogue at the Lefevre Gallery in 1943, noted that pure still lifes are rare in Giman's work. However, Lewis Fergusson commented nonetheless: "That was what Gilman liked painting - the intimate subjects immediately to hand. He surrounded himself with objects that soon took on the character, even in his temporary Camden Town apartments, of household gods, and then set himself willingly to paint them". (Harold Gilman, An Appreciation, 1919).
The cropped compositional format, the canvas thus reduced to an almost abstract interplay of geometric lines and angles, barring the titular oil lamp, is common to Gilmans' interior works. Pictures hanging on papered walls are frequently only half seen, as with the artist's easel cropped in the left half of the background here. In line with the vogue for 'Japonisme', Gilman is unafraid to relegate observations to the extremities of the canvas or to frame them assymetrically (see for example The Shopping List, c.1912, coll. The British Council). The principle object, whether crockery or oil lamp, may not be centrally positioned yet is the most easily read by the eye and thus anchors the piece as a whole. Gilman's interest in still life, even as a detail within the context of wider interiors or portrait studies, was to increase - in Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table (1916-17, coll. Tate Gallery, London), as compared to The Breakfast Table (1910, coll. Southampton Art Gallery), the table top still life assumes a far more narratively and compositionally significant role.
Dr Wendy Baron provisionally dates Studio Interior with Oil Lamp to circa 1910-14 and we are very grateful for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.
Dimensions: 32 by 27cm., 12 1/2 by 10 1/2 in.
Medium: oil on canvas