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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Malcolm Drummond

St. James Park, 1912, Malcolm Drummond.
Like "birds of a feather," artists tend to "flock together." In the past, many of these artists' groups have centered on a local tavern where gathered a number of like-minded artists to eat, drink, discuss art, and critique one another's work. Today this "togetherness" often takes place in cyberspace. I've spoken more than a few times regarding the Internet mailing list made up of a group of artists called Paint-L. This was back about 1998 to 2004 in the days before Facebook. Other than the fact we all painted, embraced the then-infantile Internet, and liked to gab, we had little else in common. For me personally, this group played a big role in my earliest efforts to write about the art and artists of the past and present (called ArtyFacts at the time). Like the artists' groups of the past we had our own tavern, the Café Guerbois, named for the Paris watering hole favored by the Impressionists from around 1866 to 1874. Ours was somewhat more imaginary than theirs, though. The British painter, Malcolm Drummond, was very much into "flocking together." He was a member of three such groups (two of which he helped found).
Walter Sickert, 1911.
Drummond was, first of all, a patron of London's famed, Fitzroy Tavern during the early 1900s (still there and still in business today). For Drummond and many other artists of the time, aside from the beer and ale, the chief attraction of the Fitzroy was Walter Sickert. Sickert taught at Westminster School of Art during the years 1907-1912 and again from 1915-1918. His students and followers began meeting first in his home-studio just across the street from the Fitzroy. They met every Saturday, shared easels, and critically studied each other's work. However, before long, they where obliged to move the "The Fitzroy Street Group" meetings to the tavern when Sickert's atelier could no long accommodate their numbers. The group also included at different times, Spencer Gore, Nan Hudson, Ethel Sands, Walter Russell.

Drummond's painting style was typical of the Post-impressionism of his era.
Malcolm Drummond was born at Boyne Hill, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, the son of Rev. Canon Arthur Hislop Drummond and Anna Harriet Dodsworth. He was educated at the Oratory School in Edgbaston, Birmingham and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied history. After a year, Drummond switched to art, studying first at the Slade School of Art from 1903 to 1907, then under Sickert at Westminster. The Fitzroy Group was relatively short-lived, largely replaced by Drummond's second group, the Camden Town Group from 1911 to 1913, organized mostly to put on exhibitions. There was one other difference--Sickert's group had always excluded women.

Hammersmith Bridge, 1880, Malcolm Drummond
Self-portrait, ca. 1908-11,
Malcolm Drummond
Zina Ogilvie,
Malcolm Drummond
Drummond was also a founding member of the "London Group" in 1914. He served as its treasurer in 1921 and exhibiting with the group until 1932. The two years after WW I were very productive for Drummond: he painted The Hammersmith Bridge (above) and a number of scenes in the Ham-mersmth Palais de Danse and the London Law Courts. He too taught at Westminster School of Art until he left London in 1931 to return to Berkshire following the death of his first wife Zina Lilias Ogilvie (above), who was likewise a talented artist/illustrator working under the pen name of Alexina. Zina was also a concert pianist who had performed at The Wigmore Hall and was much admired by Walter Sickert and Clive Bell. Malcolm and Zina shared a passion for art and music and worked together in Malcolm's studio as well as performing musical soires together at home, Malcolm accompanying Zina on violin. In 1937 he lost the sight of one eye, completing losing his sight by 1942. He died in 1945 at the age of sixty-five.

Still life with coffee pot,
1914, Malcolm Drummond

Interior, A Sculptor's Studio, Malcolm Drummond--a rare glimpse of how a painter (and a sculptor) thinks and works. Notice the changes from the preliminary study.


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