London, Goupil Gallery, First Exhibition by Members of the London Group, March 1914, no. 38;
London, Goupil Gallery, The Cumberland Market Group, April - May 1915, no.35;
London, Alex Reid and Lefevre, Paintings by Robert Bevan, May 1944, no.1, as 'The Two Bridges, Camden Town'.
Dated to circa 1912-13, the present painting shows a view that although not definitively identified, seems to bear a striking, if slightly foreshortened, resemblance to that seen from Chalk Farm Road at the junction with Castlehaven Road looking towards Camden Lock. As such it is stylistically in keeping with other paintings of similar date that draw on the area near Bevan’s home on Adamson Road, Swiss Cottage (this site would be less than a mile from Bevan’s home) and form part of a body of works that draw on the ordinary street life of London.
It also dates from the period when Bevan’s handling and palette underwent a notable change, moving from a distinctly fauvist liquid use of the paint and often highly-keyed colour range to one where the drier paint surface forms the composition through a more linear manner utilizing flatter planes of colour, very much in line with the contiguous developments in the work of his friend Gore, and the palette becomes more tonal, with wider use of whites, creams, greens and lilacs. In keeping with his contemporaries, Bevan’s interest in the less glossy side of London life is clear, with the everyday world of cab-yards, road and rail junctions and the ordinary citizens going about their business.
Whilst it is the images of horse-sales and cab-yards that have become perhaps Bevan’s best-known work, the images of the streets of the London north of Euston Road carry a great deal of quiet power. We are not shown the great events of the hub of Empire or the tawdry glitter of the social scenes of the music halls of Piccadilly Circus. Rather, Bevan chooses to show us the streets, often perhaps fallen a little on straitened times, in which lives are lived.
Two Bridges has been unexhibited for over sixty years, and we are grateful to Patrick Baty for his assistance in tracing the early history of the painting, which has been requested for inclusion in the proposed Cumberland Market group exhibition planned for 2007-8.
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