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New Display Marks 100th Anniversary of the Formation of the Camden Town Group
Spencer Gore self portrait 1914. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
LONDON.- A new display at the National Portrait Gallery marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Camden Town group of artists. Focusing on the leading members of the group which flourished around 1911-1912, the display also showcases three important portraits by the group recently acquired by the Gallery. Camden Town and Beyond, a display of 16 portraits, is an opportunity to take a fresh look at this significant group of artists.

Named after the area of north-west London where the painter Walter Sickert rented several studios, the Camden Town Group of artists were united by their fascination with depicting ordinary life. Their unadorned, everyday subjects included shabby interiors, portraits of friends and models in humble settings, domestic still-lifes and views of London streets. Several members developed an innovative use of bold colour and fragmented brushwork. The group comprised sixteen artists, including Robert Bevan, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Malcolm Drummond, and their leader, Walter Sickert.

The three portraits shown at the Gallery for the first time are Harold Gilman’s portrait of Spencer Gore, who was the group’s first president; Supper, Mark Gertler’s sensuous portrait of Natalie Denny, a celebrated beauty, artists’ muse and, later, an influential society hostess; and Gilman’s striking portrait of the painter Stanislawa Bevan (née de Karlowska). These works were recently acquired by the Gallery through the government’s Acceptance in Lieu Scheme. The display of Harold Gilman’s portrait of Stanislawa Bevan, alongside another portrait of her by Robert Bevan, is of particular importance. During her lifetime Stanislawa Bevan was prevented from joining the Camden Town Group because she was a woman and her reputation suffered as a result. The display will now acknowledge her as a key figure in this circle of artists.

The three new portraits will be shown in the context of other portraits by and of the Camden Town Group from the Gallery’s Collection to collectively survey the key figures. The display will also explore the subsequent development of British post-impressionist ideas and style through portraits by such major figures as Augustus John and Mark Gertler. A monochrome self-portrait by Walter Sickert reveals his subsequent use of black and white photographs as the basis for portraits. Despite shared characteristics, the Camden Town painters embraced a range of approaches and subsequently developed divergent styles. However, their involvement with ordinary life and experimentation with new means of expression left a significant artistic legacy in Britain.

National Portrait Gallery | Camden Town Group | Robert Bevan | Spencer Gore | Harold Gilman |


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