Modern British Art by Mortimer L. Menpes: A Tea House, Shanghai, circa 1909 |


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Mortimer L. Menpes:
A Tea House, Shanghai, circa 1909

Framed (ref: 5699)

Gouache and oil on board
12 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. (32 x 40 cm)

Tags: architecture

Provenance: M E Rich, sold Sotheby's, lot 1 8.3.1978; private collection until 2013
In a frame of the artist's own design

Menpes first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880, and, over the following 20 years, 35 of his paintings and etchings were shown at the Academy. Menpes set off on a sketching tour of Brittany in 1880, during which he met James McNeill Whistler. He became Whistler's pupil, and at one stage shared a flat with him at Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea Embankment in London. He was taught etching by Whistler, whose influence, together with that of Japanese design, is evident in his later work. Menpes became a major figure in the etching revival, producing more than seven hundred different etchings and drypoints, which he usually printed himself. As early as 1880, a selection of ten of his drypoint portraits, donated to the British Museum by Charles A. Howell, brought him critical acclaim. A visit to Japan in 1887 led to his first one-man exhibition at Dowdeswell's Gallery[4] in London. Menpes moved into a property at 25 Cadogan Gardens, Sloane Square, designed for him by A. H. Mackmurdo in 1888 and decorated it in the Japanese style. Whistler and Menpes quarreled in 1888 over the interior design of the house, which Whistler felt was a brazen copying of his own ideas.

Menpes  is particularly prized for his topographical paintings of the Far East  where he travelled extensively in the late 19th and early 20th century.  His book on China,  published in in 1909, was a collaboration  with Sir Henry Arthur Blake, who served as Governor of Hong Kong.
This is an unusually large work  for a Menpes.  A related print by Menpes was sold at Sotheby's (lot 123, 25.10.1995).

The following books were illustrated by Menpes

    Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: a record in colour (A & C Black, 1901).
    Menpes, Dorothy. The Durbar (London: A & C Black, 1903)
    Menpes, Dorothy. World's Children (London: A & C Black, 1903).
    Menpes, Dorothy. Venice (A & C Black, 1904).
    Loti, Pierre. Madame Prune (A & C Black, 1905).
    Menpes, Dorothy. Brittany (A & C Black, 1905).
    Steel, Flora Annie. India (A & C Black, 1905).
    Mitton, G. E. The Thames (A & C Black, 1906).
    Blake, Sir H. A. China (A & C Black, 1909)
    Menpes, Dorothy. Paris (A & C Black, 1909).
    Finnemore, John. India (A & C Black, 1910).
    Mitton, G. E. The people of India (A & C Black, 1910).
    Blathwayt, R. Through life and round the world, being the story of my life (E.P. Dutton, 1917).
    Finnemore, John. Home life in India (A & C Black, 1917)
    Home, Gordon. France (A & C Black, 1918).

Written and illustrated by Menpes

    War impressions, being a record in colour; (A & C Black, 1901).
    Whistler as I knew him (A & C Black, 1904)
    Rembrandt (A & C Black, 1905)
    Henry Irving (A & C Black, 1906).
    Gainsborough (A & C Black, 1909).
    Lord Kitchener (A & C Black, 1915).
    Lord Roberts (A & C Black, 1915).

We are grateful to Julie Robinson for her help.

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