Joseph William Hammick

At The Theatre

Regular price £395.00
Unit price

Joseph William Hammick

At The Theatre

Regular price £395.00
Unit price
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This early 20th-century watercolour by British artist Joseph William Hammick (1882-1950) depicts a smartly attired couple within a theatre. Hammick was a draughtsman predominantly known for his elegant newspaper illustrations.

Born into a multi-generational family of bakers, Hammick was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. His parents, siblings and grandparents all worked in a bakery and his formative years were spent in this environment. How he trained as an artist is unknown as there are no apparent records relating to his education.

Perhaps, given his aptitude for figurative work, his inspiration was derived from the various finely dressed patrons who frequented the family shop. In this respect, we’re reminded of the great JMW Turner who was raised in a busy London barber’s and would sell his drawings to customers.

In 1901, the census recorded young Hammick’s occupation as an ‘Artist’. At just 19, he’d somehow attained the level of being regarded as a professional. It’s probable that he’d done so while also fulfilling his obligations among dough, flour and yeast - quite an achievement given the circumstances.

His early works include ‘A Summer Day Dream’ and ‘The Morning Ride’ published in the Lady’s Pictorial - illustrations to support a narrative. And in 1908, he was published in the popular ‘London Illustrated News’ with ‘An Informal Picnic’. In each of these, his skill for figures is comparable with any of his contemporaries, particularly with regard to the female form. He possessed a keen eye for drapery with careful attention to the elaborate outfits of his day.

Here, in a delightful piece from 1905, he’s depicted a couple within a theatre. A young lady, dressed in an exquisitely ruffled top, cape, and oversized hat, is flaunting her style. While an older gentleman wearing a suit and coat looks on. It’s a fine example of his masterly ability to encapsulate the decadence of Edwardian fashionistas.

Hammick continued in this vein for around a decade, gaining commissions for book illustrations alongside his drawings for newspapers and magazines. A handful of works were shown at London’s Royal Academy including, in 1912, a ‘Souvenir of Taormina’. All the while living with his family who were still employed as bakers.

It’s plausible that, if he’d been allowed to continue this way, he would’ve become one of the finest illustrators of his generation - gaining increasing popularity among London’s elite publishers. But instead, in 1914, like many of his peers, he faced the realities of World War I.

It’s perhaps fair to assume that, given the genteel nature of his known work, Joseph William Hammick was a rather tender gentleman. And if we can judge his interests by his chosen subjects, he had a greater affinity for decorative apparel than he did for the rigours of trench warfare. Hence, we can only imagine how he felt amid the looming prospect of conscription.

In 1921, the census records him as working as a secretary for ‘P Buck Baker, Confectioner, Caterer’ of 48-52 High Street, Watford. His artistic career was essentially finished. It’s unclear how he spent the war years but perhaps he opted to work with his family instead of facing combat - many bakers were exempted. He spent the rest of his life employed in similar roles.

Signed/dated lower right and held in a contemporary frame. Glazed.

Learn more about Joseph William Hammick in our directory.

Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 14” x 16” / 35cm x 41cm
Year of creation: 1905
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator.
Our reference: BRV1738

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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