Frederick Cayley Robinson (1862 - 1927)

The Capture Sold

Pencil, watercolour and gouache.
Signed and dated CAYLEY - ROBINSON 1924 at the lower right.
Inscribed The Captive / Frederick Cayley Robinson / (JS Maas) in a modern hand on a label formerly pasted onto the old backing board.
278 x 334 mm. (10 5/8 x 13 1/8 in.) [image]
348 x 403 mm. (13 5/8 x 15 7/8 in.) [sheet]


Among the most common themes in Frederick Cayley Robinson’s oeuvre is that of women or girls in enclosed interior spaces, often lit from both a light source within the room and from a window beyond. In keeping with much of Frederick Cayley Robinson’s work, the subject of this drawing remains somewhat enigmatic. As MaryAnne Stevens has noted of the artist, ‘the critics were perplexed by the meaning of Robinson’s paintings. When writing about his work, they tended to apply such descriptions as ‘poetic’, ‘literary’, ‘ethical’, ‘full of associative meaning’ and expressive of a mood’. However, there was one quality in his pictures upon which they all agreed: it was ‘symbolic’. This does not mean that Robinson adhered to a rigid system of visual metaphor...Instead, it is the quiet interchange between form and content, line and colour, which suggests a mood, a state of mind or the aspirations of Man. It is this aspect of his work which, in the face of pictorial innovation by other English artists after about 1900, justified Robinson’s commitment to an individual, quasi-archaic style of painting. It was this aspect that which also fascinated the critics of his day and which continue to intrigue us today.’

The present watercolour was one of two works sent by Cayley Robinson to the summer exhibition of the Old Water-Colour Society in London in 1924. One review of the exhibition noted that ‘Mr. Cayley Robinson is scarcely as successful as usual in The Capture, the figure interest being expressed with less sympathy than the finely-studied still-life in the foreground.’ The drawing was probably acquired from the OWCS exhibition by Sir Laurence Halsey (1871-1945), who lent it to the Royal Academy in 1928. Not long afterwards The Capture entered the collection of the law judge Lord Blanesburgh (1861-1946), who owned several significant works by Cayley Robinson, and was one of the artist’s most important patrons and supporters.

Sir Laurence E. Halsey, K.B.E., London and Worplesdon, in 1928
Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh, Winchelsea, Sussex
The Fine Art Society, London, in 1969
Mrs. Michael Webb, in 1975
Possibly the Maas Gallery, London
Ralph Esmerian, New York.

‘Current Art Notes: Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours’, The Connoisseur, May 1924, p.51.


The Capture


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