Piccadilly Circus, London, England
The Sacred Fair
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From the Collection
William Walcot (1874-1943) was a British architect, graphic artist and etcher. Born in Odessa, he was notable as a practitioner of refined Art Nouveau (Style Moderne) architecture in Moscow - which had the misfortune to be condemned ;ater as 'bourgeois decadence' by Communist Russia. His trademark Lady's Head keystone ornament became the easily recognisable symbol of the Russian Style Moderne.
Moving to Britain in 1906 following the early death of his wife, in the 1920s and 1930s, Walcot concentrated on graphic art and was widely praised as the best architectural draftsman in London. He was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1913, as an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1916 and a Fellow of the RIBA in 1922. He was also an associate of the British School at Rome.
Walcot, along with contemporary Cyril Farey, was one of the most sought-after English architectural illustrators of the 1920s and 30s. Walcot developed his own impressionistic style in gouache and watercolour which won numerous commissions from Edwin Lutyens, Herbert Baker and Aston Webb. He also engaged in printmaking, creating reconstructions of ancient Greek, Roman, Babylonian and Egyptian buildings Tragically, Walcot's successful practice was ruined with the outbreak of World War II, and, in 1943, he committed suicide in Sussex.
An impression of The Sacred Fair was included in Walcot's one-man show at James Connell (Bond St., London) in April 1918. The catalogue note by Marius Ivor comments that in ancient times all fairs were essentially religious festivals involving both spectacle and the donation of tributes. The famous French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero recorded oven-shaped granaries - and some are depicted here. Sacred Fair is an artist's inspired tribute to the work of the brilliant Frenchman who has invested the study of ancient Egypt with a new spirit.
In the introduction to the catalogue, Ivor noted with regard to Walcot's living recreations of ancient times: "Archaeology is history; art is experience, and must always have a reference to the modernity of the past".
Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, 'William Walcot', http://www.elizabethharvey-lee.com/exhibitions/walcot/walcot41_sacred_fa...
Wikipedia, 'William Walcot', https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walcot
Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art June 2018
Descriptive Medium: etching