Flourished c.1885
Whistler in the Tavern

Oil on board, signed and dated ‘1880’ lower right
Image size: 4 ¾ x 6 inches (12 x 15.5 cm)
Original gilt frame

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Here we see a small Victorian tavern, where customers and weary travellers stand at the mahogany bar to drink. The inclusion of the bottles behind the bar, the clock (calling almost nine o’clock) and the small gas lamp give this scene complete believability. From Hamilton’s chosen perspective and composition, we ourselves act as an addition to the group and become immersed in the action.

This scene is full of colourful characters each with their own personality. Note the man throwing back the last dregs of drink from his glass as his fellow companion who stands with his arms crossed and a sneering expression. Next to this duo a rather suave dandy leans his body against the bar. This figure is believed to be the artist Whistler, sporting his infamous moustache and holding his hat. As he leans across the bar to engage the apparently willing barmaid, a seemingly disgruntled man pops his head in between the couple.

This group are unaware that just next to them a young girl has been sent with her ceramic pitcher to get some beer and it teeters ominously on the edge of the ledge above her. Through this chaotic scene only one man manages to find respite to sit and read the times newspaper, with two worn-out dogs asleep at his feet.