Here is Meg as a mature student, aged around 24. There can be no doubt that she was the first of our schoolgirls if you compare it with the painting of 20 years earlier. The only colour version I have is low-resolution.
I’ll add a colour image later. The space between the artist and her
(plaster) model reminds one of an Annunciation.
The Student is the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in the Royal Pavilion. It was shown at the Royal Academy in 1909. Meg was shown in Twilight: Interior or Reading by Lamplight in the same year. We’ve also met her in The Breakfast Table and in the portrait I call Unfinished Meg.
More schoolgirls, though rather mature ones, with milkmaid and flower-seller, from 1880, at the Yale Center for British Art. This is one of a series of pictures of women in London streets done mainly in 1880 and early 1881, though we see one even in the watercolour Flora of 1883. The series includes Winter Afternoon, London and In the Street, and the major statement in this vein, A Spring Morning, Haverstock Hill. They look straight at us in a dead-pan way, painted by a still single young man. He married in the summer of 1881 and left London. By 1882 the interest would have been entirely with the milkmaid or, in Spring
Morning, with the road-diggers.
This picture, like Spring Morning, is good classroom material. What do we see here? What does this picture tell us about Victorian social divisions? Illustrated in Judith Flanders’s The Victorian House, Harper Collins, London, 2003.
Clausen isn’t really a painter for galleries. His pictures look better in houses. Even when you think from an illustration that they are going to be large, they often turn out to be small. Whatever its size, this oil at Napier, New Zealand, I presume at the Hawke’s Bay Museum, would look wonderful in a child’s playroom. TD was hardly a gallery artist at all.
I’m not sure of the date of The Roadside Tree. The tree reminds one of his style around 1906 and Building the Rick. The road and the early morning setting suggest the 20s. The schoolgirls look Edwardian – but the one in the white socks looks later. The background promises a hot day, and has some of the spread and serenity of the Wycliffe mural in St Stephen’s Hall. So I’d go for a date in the 20s. The blue circle on the lower left of the photograph indicates damage either to the original picture or the photograph.
Afterthought: this may be the 1932 Royal Academy painting The Road to School. Royal Academy Pictures could confirm that. Done, in that case, around the age of 80. Kenneth McConkey has commented that The Roadside Tree is 50.3 x 60.7 cms.
The Roadside Tree
Back to the late 1880s. This was sold at Christie’s a year or two ago and is the kind of Clausen that fetches the money. I think (not all agree) that this is his daughter Meg (1884-1946), though it might be the only time he showed her as a child outside the family or not in a pure portrait.
In private hands. Like a carcass in a desert or a prophecy of the desertion of the land. I’d guess the date as 1891-6. There is an OWCS watercolour of 1894 with this title. Is this that? I remember it from The Fine Art Society as an oil. It looks like an oil, but it’s hard to tell from the image and I don’t have its source. He had experimented with this type of low horizon in a watercolour, The Clover Field, in 1891 (1980, no 71), and it is a feature in many of the later watercolours.
In March 1928 Clausen, now Sir George, co-signed a letter from the British Confederation of Arts to Sir William Clark, Comptroller General of the Department of Overseas Trade, urging the British government to take over the ill-managed and inadequately-funded British Pavilion, Sala Inglese (opened in 1909), at the Biennale – which it did in 1932 (it is still under The British Council). It argued that the situation in Venice was
not creditable either to British Art or, what may well be more important, to British prestige and our relations with Italy in general. When in every gallery Ministers of the different nations to which they belong are waiting to receive the visit of the King of Italy, it seems unfortunate, to say the least, that in our Pavilion alone some make-shift arrangement is all that can be effected.
What was undoubtedly more important! The other signatories (not necessarily in this order) were painters, Lavery, Dicksee, Orpen, Ricketts, Shannon, Augustus John, Fry, Tonks, Rothenstein, Holmes; a sculptor, Dobson; architects, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; and George Bernard Shaw. See Bowness and Philpot, op cit.
The only depiction of Venice by GC that I know of is a slight drawing of the Rialto bridge at the Royal Academy, apparently dated May 1908 (most of the thousand or so drawings they hold are slight), perhaps done on an Art Workers Guild holiday.
Here is GC’s self-portrait of 1918, now at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. If you look at the last oil painting I’ve shown, In the Orchard, it’s hard to believe that this is by the same artist. To a non-GC-trained eye, it may look dull. His portraits could be conventional (one or two of the late portraits look like boardroom paintings), but this looks fresh and modern to me. It is almost the portrait of a scientist.
Comparing it with the earlier picture, we can see what a long journey he was on. Comparing it with contemporaneous landscapes, we can see what he is taking from them.
I categorise it on the right as GC late, and I take that boundary as, roughly, 1918. This is an early example of that dry paint he used for his pictures of the 20s, with the canvas showing through.