barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Arthur Melville (1855-1904)

The Lawn Tennis Party at Marcus

Glasgow, 1889

Watercolour and pencil heightened with body colour, on paper 

760 x 940 x 34 mm


Originally conceived in the late summer of 1886, Melville’s fresh and spontaneous watercolour shows the family home of John Robertson (a friend of the artist), at Marcus in north-east Scotland. 

Robertson himself is sitting at the tea-table with Revd John Herkless, later Principal of St Andrews University, while Mrs Robertson and Mrs (later lady) Herkless play tennis gracefully in the foreground, underneath an autumnal tree. Melville’s first sketch for the subject was conceived in his blurry ‘blotesque’ manner, capturing the rapid movement of the players. In this finished watercolour, painted for an exhibition after a gap of three years, his style is much more precise and the details of the composition more resolved.  Perhaps the Robertsons rejected the first work and asked for greater clarity in the second.

Purchased in 2011 (No.11.2)


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