11408 A PAIR OF CIRCULAR PAINTINGS OF ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL AND THE HORSE GUARDS WHITEHALL BY WILLIAM ARTHUR CHASE (1878 – 1944), IN THEIR ORIGINAL CARVED AND GILTWOOD FRAMES London. 1928 Measurements: Width: 19 1/4″ (48.9 cm) Height: 60″ (152.4 cm).
Of painted and gilt wood. Each carved with a grotesque mask flanked by C-scrolls suspending a drapery above a ribbon-tied stem entwined with oak branches and terminating in a circular painted canvas panel with oak leaf and acorn frame, one painting entitled Horse Guards of Whitehall and the other St. Paul’s Cathedral, with a foliate and pierced lattice carved decoration below.
One inscribed on the plaque: Horse Guards Whitehall, the other St Paul’s Cathedral Each signed on the stretcher to the reverse: W A Chase, and dated 1928.
A US Private Collection
The present pair of paintings of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Horse Guards Whitehall, are both signed by British painter William Arthur Chase (1878 – 1944) and dated 1928.
Born in Bristol on 17th May 1878, William A. Chase received his early education at the Rev. Anthony Hudson’s Private School, later attended the City and Guilds School in London, where he won National Silver and Bronze Medals, and then furthered his studies at the Regent Street Polytechnic Art School where he was awarded a Silver Medal.
While working as an Inland Revenue Officer, he continued his painting and exhibited at the Royal Academy of London and several leading galleries. When he returned to his home town of Bristol in 1908, at the age of thirty, he was already a well known portrait painter and a specialist in flower paintings. He later spent much time painting in Northern Italy and South America. When he returned to England, he settled in Blewbury near Didcot in Berkshire where, on 29th September 1944, he died aged sixty-six.
Chase enjoyed royal patronage for his works; one oil painting entitled ‘The Flower Jug‘ was bought for H. M. Queen Mary and two further oil paintings, ‘A Coloured Group of Sweet Peas‘ and ‘A Chintz Bunch,’ were both acquired by H. M. Queen of Norway. A fascinating oil painting entitled The Keynote (1915) is today in the Tate Gallery.1
A very significant aspect of Chase’s work were his designs for marquetry panels on behalf of The Rowley Gallery (est. 1898). “Designs for panels were at first adapted from paintings by artists such as Millais, Whistler and Lord Leighton, but then A. J. Rowley began to commission artists to make designs specifically for wood panels. One of the first and most prolific of these was William Chase.”2 A three-panel screen of walnut, harewood, sycamore and mahogany designed by Chase for the Rowley Gallery is today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.3
Interestingly, the frames of the present paintings are very closely related to the famous plasterwork in the Court Room at the Foundling Museum Brunswick Square, London (figure 1 and figure 2).
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The institution, both fascinating and desperately needed, was founded by Thomas Coram (1668 -1751) after receiving a Royal Charter from King George II in 1739, enabling him to establish the Foundling Hospital to care for and educate some of London’s many thousands of abandoned children. “Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel, who helped establish the Hospital as one of London’s most fashionable venues. Hogarth encouraged leading artists of the day to donate work, thereby establishing the UK’s first public art gallery. Handel donated an organ and conducted annual benefit concerts of Messiah in the Hospital’s chapel. Their creative generosity set the template for the ways in which the arts can support philanthropy.”4
The Foundling Museum opened in 2004. The building at 40 Brunswick Square was constructed in the 1930s on the site of the Foundling Hospital, and incorporates many architectural features from the original eighteenth-century Hospital building.5
The original commission for these interesting paintings is as yet unknown, however, given the very high cost and scale of the original frames, it seems probable that they were for a specific interior of some importance.
1 Cecil Broome, The Bristol Savages.
2. The Rowe Gallery. “History.” http://www.rowleygallery.com/History.aspx
3. Victoria & Albert Museum, No. CIRC.778-1968. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O124594/screen-chase-william-arthur/ CIRC.778-1968.
4. The Founding Museum. “Our History.” https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/about/our-history/