Portrait of Redbridge

Reproduced courtesy of Epping Forest District Museums, Heritage & CultureReproduced courtesy of Epping Forest District Museums, Heritage & Culture

This month, Jef Page continues his exploration of the work and lives of artists who lived in Redbridge and those who came here to paint, including several with links to the local area, such as James Paul Andre, whose picturesque scene across Eagle Pond is shown here

This is Part Two of a lecture I gave at Wanstead Library last December on local art and artists, but if you missed that one, it doesn't matter. That talk even inspired a member of the audience to give a similar one on Buckhurst Hill artists.

My new event this month will look at local Redbridge personalities who are often ignored and show some paintings that are rarely seen here. The Assembly at Wanstead House (c. 1728–1731) by William Hogarth will be the star picture, which is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. An Infant Orphan Election at the London Tavern by George E Hicks (1865) will also feature, with its links to the Snaresbrook orphanage, but I plan to start with a little-known portrait of William Penn of Wanstead.

Pacifist Quaker William Penn (1644–1718) lived with his family in Wanstead. He liked school so much he ran all the way to Chigwell School, before 'running' even further – to the USA – giving his name to the Keystone State, Pennsylvania. Francis Place's portrait of Penn is owned by the Pennsylvania Historical Society – great thanks to Senior Director Lee Arnold for all his help and forbearance!

The Assembly at Wanstead House shows Sir Richard Child, his wife Dorothy and his elegant and wealthy family and friends taking tea and playing cards at his palace – Wanstead House – whilst An Infant Orphan Election portrays widows petitioning (inelegantly buying, bribing) for votes to get their children entered into a good home, if an orphanage can ever be described as such.

I will feature at least one work by James Paul Andre, an artist working between 1823 and 1867. He travelled out to Essex and clearly liked the area, painting pictures of Chigwell, Hainault Forest and Woodford Bridge. The Eagle Inn from Eagle Pond (shown here) is a quick, moonlit sketch of a picturesque scene that attracted many artists. In 2007 Epping Forest District Museum bought 51 watercolours by Andre and in 2009 used 12 of them to illustrate a calendar. The museum runs across three buildings in Waltham Abbey, a Grade II* Tudor house dating from 1520, a Georgian building and a 1980s building.

Another local artist I will feature is William Finch, who was the art master at Beal School during World War Two. The entire school was evacuated to Oxfordshire from 1940 to 1945 and he painted scenes of the boys, some of which are displayed in Redbridge Museum. One I particularly like is of them digging up potatoes for their school dinners.

Finally, I'll include sketches of Wanstead and Woodford by Robert Barltrop, which were published in the Ilford Recorder, and paintings by Alfred Bennett Bamford. Many of the buildings they portrayed have long since vanished.

Jef's presentation on local artists will take place at Wanstead Library on 10 May from 2pm to 3pm (free) – call 020 8708 7400. The event is organised by the Redbridge Library service on behalf of Vision RCL.

The Epping Forest District Museum is located at 39–41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL – call 01992 716 882


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