‘At the Bar’ by William Orpen (circa 1907 – 1908).
Oil on Canvas : 38 x 28 inches.
Private Collection (Photo by Priory Studios).
Picture of a gentleman standing behind a bar (probably the landlord at ‘The Hall by the Sea’).
The Hall by the Sea was opened in 1867 using the booking hall of a railway station built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, but never used as a station because of opposition from the South Eastern Railway, owners of the nearby Margate Sands station. In February 1874 the premises were acquired by ‘Lord’ George Sanger and used as a restaurant and ballroom. In 1898 the railway station structure was replaced by a purpose built hall. In 1919 it was purchased by John H. Iles who developed the site as ‘Dreamland’ amusement park, which is still there.
Source: Margate in Old Photographs collected by Richard Clements & Alan Sutton, 1992.
Dreamland Hall, Margate.
Bruce Arnold – Mirror to an Age – pages 210-211 says of Margate and The Hall by the Sea – “Margate, ‘the fragrance of summer days gone by’, where Charles Lamb spent ‘the most agreeable holiday’ of his life, had always been popular with Londoners. There was easy access aboard the Margate Hoys down the Thames estuary. To some extent this had made it a ‘low’ resort by the end of the century, with a certain vulgarity and brassiness nowhere more stridently epitomised than in the Victorian Gothic splendour of ‘The Hall by the Sea’. This typically British seaside palace, at one period a circus run by Lord George Sanger, at another a skating rink, contained a theatre and a bar when the Orpen’s and the Nicholson’s visited it. It held endless fascination for the two artists who were profoundly attracted by the rich combination of baroque architecture, the vaguely sordid atmosphere, the ephemeral nature of seasonal, seaside enjoyment and the general air of decay which had seized on this particular palace, and was soon after to lead to its demolition. They both painted there.”
During the holiday William Orpen returned to Ireland, leaving his wife Grace and the Nicholson’s with six children and a nanny to their holiday in Margate. He wrote to Grace from Dublin and addressed the letters to Northcliff House, Louis Avenue, Cliftonville, Kent (which borders with Broadstairs).
There is no record of a Northdown Cottage in Cliftonville at that time, but there was one in the next village, of Northdown. This was owned and administered by Mrs. Matthews. The location is in Old Green Road near the junction with Holly Lane. In view of its proximity to Cliftonville, there is a fair chance this is the correct address. The cottage is now two cottages known as East Cottage and West Cottage.
A postcard from the 1900’s showing The Oval, Cliftonville.
‘At the Bar’ – Provenance : Knoedler, London, 1922.
Purchased from Hunter’s Gallery circa 1945.
Exhibited : A Work entitled ‘At the Bar’ was exhibited at the Orpen Memorial Exhibition at M. Knoedler & Co, New York, 18-30 January 1932, No.26.
National Gallery of Ireland, William Orpen Centenary Exhibition, 1978, No.84.
Literature : Untitled photograph (Source Knoedler, London, 1922), in the Witt Library.
National Gallery of Ireland, William Orpen Centenary Exhibition Catalogue, 1978, No.84, page 48.
When using the ‘Hall by the Sea’ by William Nicholson as reference there are similarities in decor and furniture that would suggest that this may well be “The Bar in the Hall by the Sea” – the tops of the chairs are similar, and both have a canopy over the bar area.
‘Hall By The Sea’, by William Nicholson (1909).
Orpen’s Studio book Autumn 1908, page 17, “”The Bar in the Hall by the Sea Margate” exhibited 1908 Franco British, Glasgow 1909, Dusseldorf 1910 bought Knoedler.” No price shown.
Exhibited : Franco British, White City, Irish Village, Ballymaclinton, 10 July – 31 October 1908, No.15.
Listed in an illustrated note from Orpen to Hugh Lane (item No.3) in Arnold’s research papers with a price of £100 – With note “For insurance or sale”. The illustration is of Hugh Lane standing almost naked on a globe, which has British and French sticking out of it, and the words Franco British on it.
Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, 1909, No.638, price tag £100.
A work entitled “The Bar in the Hall” was exhibited at The Coronation Exhibition “White City”, Shepherd’s Bush, London, in 1911 (No. 795).
Literature : Konody & Dark, in their chronological list for 1907, page 267.
Post by Dominic Lee.