Facts about the painting

Size 28" x 36"
Format Oil on Canvas
Signature Lower Right
Frame Not known

History of the painting

Date Auctioneer Lot Offer Price Sale Price
17 Nov 2004 Bonham's London 133 £10,000-£15,000 £18,800

Other observations

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this painting is the similarity of the room with that of "The Captive 1893" and that in "Her First Steps 1901". We can see rather more of the room in this painting but it is very clearly the same room (see the shape of the stone floor slaps and the ceiling beams). Not even two of any of Harry's other paintings show such identical rooms

If at seems most likely Harry painted scenes involving his children at play and work it can be assumed that these were paintings of real world events primarily from inside and close to the house where they lived. Given that his family did not move house very often (which we know from census records), either there were a great many rooms in their house (unlikely) or alternatively Harry adjusted the rooms somewhat for each painting. However the almost identical nature of the rooms in these two paintings painted over 4 years apart shows that in general he painted what was there and did not alter much. Also the way that Harry recorded the effect on natural light from windows on the subjects in the scenes meant that he was not able to alter the room much either. Which ever way you look at it this is a quandary that we may never resolve.

Here we have three young girls (all of whom may have featured in either "Kitty's Tea Party 1892" or "The Young Dressmakers 1893" and one of whom might be Elsie) being led to a play shop by an older girl who might be but does not have Ruth's face. The shopkeeper is probably Edwin (now aged 14). Perhaps this older girl is a friend of Edwin? Edgar and Oswald (now 18 and 17) do still feature in many of Harry's paintings but it has to be assumed that they are now indeed "too old to play" some of the games still enjoyed by the younger children, and this is one such game.

Common features scattered around this painting include the warming pan hanging on the wall and the ubiquitous earthenware jug. Some of the chairs are clearly the same as in other paintings. It is interesting to see in this scene not just one but two chairs which have lost their backs. Was this through the children's play?