William Logsdail: “Bank and the Royal Exchange” (1887)

William Logsdail first left Britain in 1879 in order to train at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, under the guidance of Charles Verlat. Under Verlat’s tutelage, his work evolved to depict the lives of ordinary people who are struggling to make a living. He also learned in Antwerp a technique of making an impressionistic block like appearance, using a square ended brush and palette knife.

In 1887, when Logsdail had returned from his first sojourn in Venice, and before he had met Mary Ann Ashman, daughter of a Norfolk shepherd, he lived and worked at one of the Primrose Hill studios among the growing art community there. He embarked on a series showing busy street scenes with landmark buildings.

These speculatively built artist’s studio houses were built in 1877-82. The courtyard around which the houses were built inspired a camaraderie reflecting the egalitarian art worker ideal promoted by Ruskin and Morris. Amongst the first tenants were John William Waterhouse at No 3, who was to become a lifelong friend of William Logsdail, and Esther Kenworthy, the noted flower painter who married Waterhouse. Esther’s parents were artistic schoolteachers in Ealing, and the wedding took place at the parish church there (architect Sir George Gilbert Scott).

Waterhouse also befriended Joseph Wolf (1820-99), the greatest naturalist painter and illustrator of his generation, and another founding resident of the Primrose Hill community, who had lived at No 2 from the 1870s.

In the picture shown above:

Waterhouse is shown in the front row of an omnibus

Wolf features in the second row, reading a newspaper, and wearing a grey suit and black top hat

The prominent Victorian artists Tom Lloyd and Lance Calkin appear on the top of the bus in the lower right foreground

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