Gathering on the Terrace at 47 Downshire Hill, Hampstead by Richard Carline

Gathering on the Terrace at 47 Downshire Hill, (1925) by Richard Carline

If you go back to My Daily Art Display for August 5th and the painting by Sir Stanley Spencer, you will find a mention of Richard Carline, as Spencer married his sister Hilda.   Richard Carline was born in Oxford into a family of artists.  It was an artistically talented family.  Richard Carline’s parents, George and Annie Carline were both artists who married in 1885 and had five children and the three youngest of these Sydney, Hilda and Richard all became respected painters.

Richard Carline’s works included landscapes and portraits, often of his contemporaries.  In 1913 Richard Carline enrolled at the Percyval Tudor-Hart’s Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture, in Paris.  Following a short period teaching, Carline served in World War I where he was appointed an Official War Artist.   Along with his brother he became well-known for his war pictures from the air.   In the 1920’s, the Carlines’ Hampstead home at Downshire Hill became a focus point for artists such as Henry Lamb, John Nash, Stanley Spencer and Mark Gertler who would have regular meetings there to discuss the arts.  It was during this time that Carline was clearly influenced by Stanley Spencer, transforming everyday scenes into something monumental.  Unlike Spencer, Carline achieved this without actually exaggerating figures or their gestures to the degree that Spencer did.  In 1924 he started a five year stint teaching at the Ruskin School of Drawing at Oxford.   His first solo exhibition came about in 1931 at the Goupil Gallery in London.  During the Second World War Carline supervised camouflage of factories and airfields. When the war was over, he was involved in helping to found the Hampstead Artists’ Council in 1944.   In 1946-47 he was appointed as the first Art Counsellor to UNESCO, and from 1955 to 1974 was chief examiner in art for the Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate.   He also published a number of books including Pictures in the Post: the Story of the Picture Postcard, 1959;  Draw They Must, 1968; and Stanley Spencer at War, 1978.  The latter, I bought off eBay last week !!

Richard Carline died in 1980 aged 84.

The Carline family home, which George and Annie Carline bought in 1916, was 47 Downshire Hill in Hampstead, London and it was here that many artists would meet and discuss art, politics, religion and life in general.   One of the regular visitors, the Australian-born British painter, Henry Lamb,  described the artistic meetings as a veritable cercle pan-artistique.   Many of the group would embark on painting holidays together.

My Daily Art Display featured painting today by Richard Carline, entitled Gathering on the Terrace at 47 Downshire Hill, Hampstead,  shows one such meeting of the Downshire Hill Circle.  The painting was judged as one of Carline’s most impressive works.  Before us we have a group portrait. From left to right we have Stanley Spencer, James Wood, Kate Foster, Hilda Carline (later to become Mrs Stanley Spencer), Henry Lamb, Richard Hartley, Annie Carline and Sydney Carline.   Richard Carline was meticulous in his preparations for this work.  He painted an oil study of each of the group before slotting them into his group portrait.  His 1924 preparatory oil study of Stanley Spencer for this group portrait is also a stand-alone painting of his, entitled Study of Stanley Spencer.  Looking at the study one has to presume that he hadn’t  quite properly calculated the height of the preparatory study as he had to add Spencer’s shoes separately alongside the figure.

What enhances this group painting is the varied but individual characterization of each person.  This was not done by accident as Carline said his intention was to somehow convey the individuality of the people assembled at his parent’s house.  In his own words Carline described the group portrait:

“… [I] sought to convey the conflicting personalities gathered at our house – Stanley [Spencer] peering up and down as he expounded his views on this or that, James Wood hesitating in the doorway whether to come or go, Hilda absorbed in her own thoughts, Hartley sitting at ease, Lamb courteously attentive to my mother, with Sydney always helpful…”

This paintings, Gathering on the Terrace at 47 Downshire Hill, Hampstead , along with the Study of Stanley Spencer, are housed in the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.  It is a gallery I have never visited but looking at their website it is one I will put down as a “must visit” location.

Finally, I always like to imagine what a place, depicted in a painting, looks like today.  I did this with my entry about Renoir’s boathouse in his painting Luncheon of the Boating Party which I featured in My Daily Art Display of August 2nd, so I wondered what the house at 47 Downshire Hill looks like today.  So below is a picture of it I found of it on the internet!

The present Downshire Hill house and garden