REX VICAT COLE
Along the Mall at Night – Underground headquarters at St James’ Park floodlit
Signed l.r.; inscribed with title on a label on the reverse
Oil on panel
26 by 35 cm., 10 ¼ by 13 ¾ in.
(frame size 41 by 50 cm., 16 by 19 ¾ in.)
One of a number of works that show the strong influence of the nocturnes of James Abbott MacNeill Whistler on Rex Vicat Cole, the present painting looks through the dark, abstract forms of night-time in St James’s Park to the brightly lit beacon of 55 Broadway, the new London Underground headquarters, that had been finished a few years earlier in 1929. The work of the highly influential London Underground architect, Charles Holden, the building was awarded the RIBA London Architecture Medal in 1931 and was decorated with reliefs and sculptures by artists including Henry Moore, Eric Gill and Jacob Epstein.
Reginald (Rex) Vicat Cole was the son of the artist George Vicat Cole. He began to exhibit in London in the 1890s and was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1900. He taught at King’s College London with Byam Shaw and together they opened their own establishment, the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art in Camden Street, Kensington in 1910. At the outbreak of the First World War Vicat Cole and Byam Shaw enlisted in the Artists Rifles, although Shaw soon transferred to the Special Constabulary. After Shaw’s death in 1919 Vicat Cole was Principal until his retirement in 1926.
Known for his landscapes and paintings of trees he also had a keen interest in depicting the streets of London. He held a one-man show “London Old and New” at Robert Dunthorne’s Gallery, Vigo Street, London, in 1935 and planned a book The Streets of London which was never published. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.