Curator's choice - prints, watercolours & drawings

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Mayes Farm

mayes farmThe title of this vivid image is misleading because ‘Mayes Farm’ was not really a farm at all. Rather, the term was substituted by picture postcard publishers as a more romantic term for the Roman Well Laundry close by Caesar’s Well on the Common and run by the Mayes family. Prior to this it had been a brickworks.

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Wimbledon Common with windmill and golfers

wimbledon common with windmill and golfersA notable watercolour artist, Gerda Grenside (1885-1961) was the second daughter of Charles K. Grenside, a London solicitor who lived in ‘Oakfield’ along Copse Hill. Gerda is perhaps best known for her full portrait of the English lawyer and author, Thomas Hughes, who had come to Wimbledon in 1853, had ‘The Firs’ built on Copse Hill the following year and there wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays, which first came out in 1857. Gerda was a regular exhibitor with the Wimbledon Arts Club from 1903 to 1921.

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Boy fishing on Wimbledon Common

boy fishing on wimbledon commonThis early and evocative watercolour by the renowned London landscape artist James Vivian de Fleury (fl.1847-1868, d.1896) is a firm favourite of all the images of the Common. De Fleury’s fine and striking landscapes, harbours and coastal scenes were inspired by his travels to picturesque locations in Brittany, Switzerland, northern Italy and Venice. During his career he had over 80 exhibits in the most important London galleries of his time, including 16 exhibits at the Royal Academy, 12 at the British Institution, and 36 at the Suffolk Street Galleries as well as many other noteworthy galleries.

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Wimbledon Common

wimbledon commonA wonderfully peaceful scene in autumn with cattle drinking around the edge of Rushmere pond, and the houses and large trees lining Westside in the background.  At this date there were two artists called Elizabeth Phillips painting in the area. One was the daughter of the Rev. John Sidney, married to Courtenay Mansel Phillips (1801-1875) grandson of Benjamin Bond Hopkins of The Grange, Wimbledon. The other, who exhibited widely, came from a family of artists and lived in Stockwell. The former seems to be the most likely painter of this watercolour.

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Wimbledon Park House

wimbledon park houseGeorge, second Earl Spencer (1758-1834) had this fourth mansion built by Henry Holland between 1798 and 1801. George had been born in the third Marlborough manor house built by his grandmother and destroyed by fire in 1785. After this time the Spencer family had stayed in the old servants’ quarters to the north-east of the mansion.

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Wimbledon House

wimbledon houseThe grand mansion straddled what is now Home Park Road and was built in 1588 by Sir Thomas Cecil, who was then living at the Old Rectory House. Thomas was the elder son of the great William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth’s minister.

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