Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, 1864 ,
Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA
THE CHELSEA ARTS CLUB
- Stephen Bartley
The foundation in 1891 of a Club in Chelsea for artists was the result of an original idea to follow the example of the New English Art Club and establish another exhibiting Society for young, progressive artists. Chelsea by that time housed the largest population of practicing artists in London and many of them were young men eager to further their ambitions. After a couple of meetings held in the studio of the sculptor Thomas Stirling Lee in Manresa Road, the concept of showing their work together was abandoned in favour of creating a Club, “Bohemian in Character” to further their interests, the cause of Art generally, and to find a Clubhouse where they could congregate to eat, drink and play games.
Whistler was a founder Member, and was elected to the House Committee. The Scottish painter James Elder Christie offered part of his house at 181 King’s Road for the use of the Club Members. Within a few weeks over a 100 artists consisting of Architects, Engravers, Painters and Sculptors had joined. The celebrity of Whistler was an added attraction and a large number of Members turned out for the second rendition of his Ten o’clock Lecture performed in April, just one month after the Club’s opening on March 18th 1891.
Whistler was an occasional visitor, dropping in after the Theatre on his way home. He proposed his friend Albert Moore for membership, and then he moved to Paris. The Club took over the whole house in 1893. When the lease ran out in 1901, new premises were found at 141/143 Old Church Street, where the Club resides to this day.
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Chelsea Arts Club Facade Courtesy The Telegraph
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) Chelsea Arts Club (A house with veranda and steps leading to a garden), c. 1888
Pen and dark brown ink on off-white blotting paper. Courtesy Adelson Galleries, New York