Derby Day

by Gerald Spencer Pryse

P.O.A.

Derby Day, demonstrates this assured style in Pryse’s depiction of a cross section of society, their gazes all passing across the picture plane to the race beyond. The work presents the different social types united through their interest in watching the race. Pryse was a member of the Fabian Society and was known for his posters for the Labour Party, suggesting that social awareness informs much of his work.

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 40.2 x 60.2 ins/ 102.1 x 152.9 cm

SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Pryse’ (lower left)

Catalogue No: 6132 Categories: ,

Gerald Spencer Pryse was a British artist during the first part of the twentieth-century, who managed to master many different media’s. His lithographs, watercolours, drawings and impressive large oils all reconcile a portraitist’s feel for character with a bold and quick style.

Derby Day, demonstrates this assured style in Pryse’s depiction of a cross section of society, their gazes all passing across the picture plane to the race beyond. The work presents the different social types united through their interest in watching the race. Pryse was a member of the Fabian Society and was known for his posters for the Labour Party, suggesting that social awareness informs much of his work.

The artist’s family;
Thence by descent;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Born in Ashton, in the early years Pryse studied in London and Paris. He first won success at the Venice International Exhibition in 1907, and in the same year joined the Fabian Society, helping to found The Neolith, a periodical of literature and the Fine Arts. He was also a regular exhibitor at the Senefelder Club, and contributed works to Punch, the Strand Magazine, and The Graphic.

During the First World War, Pryse produced a considerable body of lithographic work based on his time spent in France and Belgium at the beginning of the war. He had also been supplied by his patron the Queen of Belgium with some huge lithographic stones and a large Mercedes.

Following this he became the official war artist and went on to record the fall of Antwerp and Ostend in his series ‘Autumn Campaign’ in 1914. Towards the end of the war he was granted permission to sketch on the front line, recording the conditions of trench warfare in numerous water-colour drawings, although unfortunately many of these were lost in the German offensive in 1918.

The remaining drawings were exhibited later on in London and were described as having a freshness and authenticity that was not always apparent in the works of the official war artists.

He also designed a number of posters including several published by Frank Pick for the Underground Electric Railway in London as well as for the Labour Party and The British Red Cross and for the Empire Marketing Board.

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