Tide of Vehicles

‘. . . he dashed in wild pursuit amid the stream of traffic, but the start was too great, and already the cab was out of sight.

‘”There now ! ” said Holmes, bitterly, as he emerged panting and white with vexation from the tide of vehicles. “Was ever such bad luck and such bad management, too ? Watson, Watson, if you are an honest man you will record this also and set it against my successes !”‘

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

IN MY VISUAL research for my Sherlock Holmes project I’ve been drawing from the original colour illustrations by Sidney Pagett but the detail above, which fits so well with the account of a chase through the streets of London in The Hound of the Baskervilles, is from a painting by Pagett’s contemporary Briton Riviere (1840 – 1920). It’s from Lost or Strayed (1905) which depicts the plight of a dog, lost amongst the London traffic.

Best known for his paintings of animals, Riviere had a studio on Finchley Road, conveniently close to London Zoo, where he had drawn as a child. His studio was modified to allow to him bring domestic animals in, including the deerhounds bred by his brother-in-law Sidney Dobell.

Copying his painting makes me realise how skilful those Victorian painters were. Riviere has captured the bustle and movement of London. I like his colour key – that bluish urban light. It wasn’t always foggy in Victorian London (or, as in this picture, Edwardian London).

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