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Showing at Tattersall's - Robert Bevan - Framed Picture 16" x 12"


Robert Polhill Bevan was a British painter, draughtsman and lithographer. He was a founding member of the Camden Town Group, the London Group, and the Cumberland Market Group.

His first teacher of drawing was Arthur Ernest Pearce, who later became head designer to Royal Doulton potteries. In 1888 he studied art under Fred Brown at the Westminster School of Art before moving to the Academie Julian in Paris. Amongst his fellow students were Paul Serusier, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis.

Bevan made his first visit to Brittany with a fellow student Eric Forbes-Robertson in 1890 and stayed at the Villa Julia, in Pont-Aven. He made a second visit in the autumn of the following year before travelling to Morocco by way of Madrid to study Velasquez and Goya at first hand.

Bevan returned to Brittany in 1893. There is no evidence that he had ever met Van Gogh but it is obvious in the swirling trees and landscape of his Breton drawings that he knew his work. It is known that he was friendly with Paul Gauguin, who gave him several prints. Bevan also received encouragement from Renoir, particularly in his drawing of horses.

Although not evident in the few paintings that survive from this period it is in his drawings, early prints, and two surviving wax panels that the obvious influence of Pont-Aven synthetism can be seen.

The influence of Gauguin was a key role in Bevan's development, helping him to discover the pure colour which led him to a premature Fauvism in 1904. Bevan's early experiments in colour can also be seen in his The Mill Pool which recalls the Talisman picture that Sérusier painted to Gauguin's instructions and was described as being “quite different in colour and really rather superior”.

However his first one-man exhibition in 1905, which contained probably the most radical paintings by a British artist at that time, was not a commercial success and was hardly noticed by the critics.

Bevan's second exhibition, in 1908, of largely Sussex scenes included the first of his paintings in the divisionist or pointillist style of which the best examples are "Ploughing on the Downs" and "The Turn-Rice Plough".

Having worked largely in isolation since returning from Pont-Aven, Bevan’s paintings were noticed by Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore and he was invited to join Walter Sickert’s Fitzroy Street Group. It was Sickert who encouraged him to "paint what really interests you and look around and see the beauty of everyday things". Thus began a series of paintings recording the decline of the horse cab trade.

In May 1911 the decision was made to form a new exhibiting society from the ranks of Fitzroy Street and so the Camden Town Group was founded. The end of that year saw Bevan moving away from the portrayal of the cab yards to the London horse sales at Tattersalls, Aldridges, the Barbican, and Wards.

The Camden Town Group was short-lived. After three financially unsuccessful exhibitions Arthur Clifton, who ran the Carfax Gallery, declined to hold any more. However he still continued to back individual members and Bevan had his third one-man show there in 1913.

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