William Hatherell

The Man On The Spot

William Hatherell

The Man On The Spot

This captivating early-20th-century watercolour by British artist William Hatherell (1855-1928) depicts a couple within a garden setting. It’s a sublime example of Hatherell’s draughtsmanship - one of the greatest British illustrators in monochrome.

This dramatic scene was produced for Good Housekeeping magazine in around 1920 and references ‘the man on the spot’, probably a short story. It’s inscribed “as then again the words came clearly to her. Surely she recognised the voice. Mais hélas la belle”. We’ve been unable to discover the original magazine but the scene seems to allude to a woman who is capable of extra-sensory perception. She’s hearing voices. Mais hélas la belle translates as ‘but alas the beauty’.

Hatherell hailed from Bristol and studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He was widely celebrated, particularly for his illustrations in black and white. His key works included 22 watercolours for Hodder's edition of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as well as numerous illustrations for magazines such as The Graphic, Good Housekeeping, and Harper's New Monthly Magazine. His works were shown at the Royal Academy between 1879 and 1904.

The Graphic magazine described him as “perhaps the greatest black and white illustrator living”.

Signed, framed and glazed.

Learn more about William Hatherell in our directory.

Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 17” x 22” / 43cm x 56cm
Year of creation: c. 1920
Condition: Artwork presents well.
Artist’s auction highlight: £13,000 achieved for an oil painting in 2019.

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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