The Baths were one of several al fresco pools built in the Edwardian era and were a prototype for the classic art deco lidos that emerged in the 1930s. The innovative architecture of these early pools is seen in the present work with the double-decker changing cabins on the left hand side of the pool and at the end can be seen the four-tiered diving board. The pools were exciting new places for the young to mingle, especially permitting mixed bathing sessions and representing as a whole a greater relaxing of formal social rules.
Throughout Lavery’s career he had been drawn to painting contemporary leisure activities, perhaps most famously with his painting The Tennis Party of 1885 (Aberdeen Art Gallery), which emphatically announced Lavery’s modernist credentials. Tennis was to appear in several other works by Lavery in addition to croquet, golf and regattas. Lavery’s keen interest in swimming baths dates from the 1920s and his visits to Monte Carlo and Palm Beach in Florida. At Palm Beach he was captivated by the People’s Pool, otherwise known as Gus’s Baths and which resulted in such works as Winter in Florida, 1927 (private collection).
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