Frederick Cayley Robinson (1862 - 1927)

Evening in London

Tempera, watercolour and pencil on paper, laid down on board. A separate sheet of paper pasted onto the main sheet at the left.
Signed and dated CAYLEY ROBINSON 1920 at the lower right.
Inscribed ‘“Evening in London.” / F. Cayley Robinson. / In the possession of Cecil French, Esq." on the backing board.
375 x 340 mm. (14 3/4 x 13 3/8 in.)

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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. As Charlotte Gere has noted, ‘It is tempting to compare the interiors which are perhaps his most successful works, with those of his French contemporaries Bonnard and Vuillard; but close examination reveals that their atmosphere has less in common with the intimism that inspired the nabis than with the quietism of the Cotswold artists and authors. In Cayley Robinson’s pictures it takes on an almost sinister quality, and one feels that the figures in their airless rooms are brooding on ancient mysteries.’

The present sheet may be related to a number of other, similar depictions of women in interiors, often incorporating standing or seated figures at the left edge of the composition, looking onto the scene. A large painting entitled A Winter’s Evening, dated 1918 and formerly in the Drage collection, was on the London art market in 2003, while another sizeable painting of the same title, dating from 1899 and exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists that year, appeared at auction in 1995 and 2001.

The present sheet was, in all likelihood, acquired directly from Cayley Robinson by his friend, the Irish artist Cecil French (1879-1953). A painter, printmaker and illustrator, French seems to have abandoned painting after around 1903, devoting himself instead to assembling a collection of works by late 19th and early 20th century painters. Among living artists, French was particularly fond of the work of Cayley Robinson, William Shackleton and Edward Stott.

Provenance:
Probably acquired from the artist by Cecil French
The Fine Art Society, London, in 1970
Stuart Pivar, New York
Acquired from him by a private collector in 1983
Private collection, until 2013.

Literature:
Geoffrey Holme, ed., British Water-Colour Painting of To-day, [The Studio, Special Winter Number], London, 1921, illustrated in colour, pl.18.

Frederick CAYLEY ROBINSON

Evening in London

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