By 1915, as I wrote in my first article about him, Robert Polhill Bevan (1865–1925) was treasurer of the London Group, successor to the Camden Town Group, and had formed his own group centred on his studio in Cumberland Market, Camden Town, London. The latter exhibited at the Goupil Gallery, London, and was later to be joined by Edward McKnight Kauffer and CRW Nevinson, who was to achieve fame as a War Artist.
Despite the landscapes he painted in the countryside of the Blackdown Hills in East Devon, Bevan’s more acclaimed paintings were mainly views in London, particularly those of Saint John’s Wood and Belsize Park.
Hay Carts, Cumberland Market from 1915 is another view of London’s last hay market, near to Bevan’s studio. The bales shown were made by mechanical baling machines and brought to London by barge.
The Green House, St John’s Wood from about 1918 shows one of many mansions which had been built in this former suburb of London, developed into low-density housing for the more affluent of the nineteenth century. This area is now known for being home to cricket with the major ground of Lord’s, and the Abbey Road Studios used by the Beatles and other famous bands. Bevan introduces a motor taxi opposite two horse-drawn carts, signalling the decline of the latter.
The Caller at the Mill from 1918-19 probably shows a scene in East Devon, painted during one of Bevan’s summer visits.
Also in typical Blackdown Hill country is The Ford, from the same period.
Bevan painted A Devon Cottage (Luppitt) in about 1920, in the same area to the north of Honiton.
In 1922, Bevan was elected a member of the New English Art Club.
Bevan painted this view of Aldwych in central London in 1924. This is a crescent off the Strand, to the east of Charing Cross. At the left is a motor omnibus, while drinking at the water-trough beneath the memorial is one of the remaining working horses of London, which by now were well in decline.
Mount Stephen from 1924 shows one of the farms close to Luppitt in East Devon, presumably painted during one of Bevan’s summer visits.
I have one undated watercolour of Bevan’s.
Landscape with Three Trees was most probably painted en plein air in the south-west of England, as an alternative to his early oil sketches.
Robert Bevan died of cancer of the stomach on 8 July 1925, in London. The following year his life and work were remembered in a retrospective, but he didn’t gain the recognition he deserved until his centenary in 1965, and remains seriously underrated.
Robert Upstone (ed) (2008), Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group, Tate Publishing. ISBN 978 1 85437 781 4.