1878 - 1971
The City

Oil on canvas, signed lower left
Image size: 30 x 40 inches (76 x 102 cm)
Original gilt frame

Exhibited Royal Academy 1953
Private Collection

Exhibited at the Royal Academy, this stunning prime view of the City from Bankside by Wilkinson, gives a glimpse of life on the Thames. On the left hand side can be seen one of the old Thames barges with its red sail. Once a common sight, they were slowly taken over by the tug boats which can also be seen in more numbers. A small naval ship can be seen in the middle, with many figures on board. On the left hand side a coxed four can be seen rowing across the Thames.

Smoke can be seen rising from the tug boats and also from the steam train going into London Bridge station.

Each day the tide goes up and down by twenty feet. For half the day, the water flows in one direction and for the other half in the other direction, with a strange moment of stillness in between while the tide turns. Such is the surge engendered that the force of the current at the centre presents a formidable challenge to a lone rower and would defeat any swimmer.

Norman Wilkinson was a British artist in oil, watercolour and dry point, usually of marine subjects. An illustrator and poster artist, he also made an important contribution in both World Wars in the field of camouflage, namely dazzle camouflage.

He was elected Hon. Marine Painter to the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1919, P.R.I. in 1937. He was knighted in 1948 and appointed a CBE in 1948. Wilkinson created a painting titled “The Approach to Plymouth Harbour” for the smoking room of the RMS Titanic, which sank with the ship. Wilkinson is one of the finest marine painters of this century.

Prolific and long-lived, Norman Wilkinson led an active and adventurous life until his death in 1971. A regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, he was president of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. His work can be found in many public and private collections listed below. He painted a record of the major sea battles of the Second World War and presented the series of 54 paintings to the nation; they are kept at the National Maritime Museum.