Edith Grace Wheatley (1888 - 1970)

The China Cupboard, 1910

SKU: 6563

Oil on panel 


20 x16 in. (51 x 41 cm)

Height – 51cm
Width – 41cm


Collection of Griff and Jo Rhys Jones

I have very few pictures that I instinctively tracked down as soon as I

saw them in order to see if I could buy them, and this is one of them.

There are elements that I like. I like the Nicholson glints on the china

and the lustre wear, though it is not Nicholson. I like the Vuillard colour

range, though it is not in the style of Vuillard. It is a little too controlled

for that. The detail and the sense of pattern is slightly naïve. I like that

too. It is assured. The subject herself is assured, too, isn’t she? It has nice

tone. It is actually an example of a style of painting that I love: coming

out of a Slade School training with skill and competence, embracing

certain freedoms and modern’ qualities of subject matter which are

then addressed with that hard-won skill. It’s not Modernist. It’s not

very daring. It doesn’t embrace any European Post-Impressionist thrust.

In a very English way, it doesn’t even seem to know of their existence.

There are no isms’ at work here. And no critic is going to get terribly

excited, because it doesn’t kick art history down the road at all. But it is

completely of its period. It tells you about the taste of the sitter – in the

rug, the china, the paintings on the wall, and more than anything the

dress. This is the interior and a person before the First World War. And it

is feminist. We do not feel that she has been painted because she is pretty.

Though she is. She has been painted because she is a person. In that way,

it is brilliantly ordinary’. With echoes of Ginner and Whistler. The white

print is the only odd bit. The perspective seems wrong. And I wonder

if it was entirely finished. Anyway, as a little slice of English history and

period it is satisfying. And the dress is just great. You know, I think she

made it herself and that is the point of the picture.

Commentary by Griff Rhys Jones, actor, writer and presenter who has worked largely in television and the West

End over the last forty years. He is currently touring his stand-up show Where was I?’ in Australia

and New Zealand.

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Edith Grace Wheatley
Edith Grace
1888 - 1970

Edith Grace Wheatley (nŽ e Wolfe) studied at the Slade School
of Fine Art (1906’08) and the Atelier Colarossi in Paris before
marrying fellow painter John Wheatley (1892’1955) in 1912. She
exhibited widely in her early career, including with the RSMPSG
(1910), and was elected a member of the NEAC in 1921.

Completing several public commissions whilst a lecturer at
the University of Cape Town (1925’37) ‘ such as ceiling and
wall paintings for the entrance to the National Gallery of South
Africa and a sculpture for the New Law Courts in Cape Town ‘
Wheatley was well established in the worlds of art and education
by the time of her first solo exhibition at the Greatorex Gallery in
1933. On returning to England, she was appointed Director of
Sheffield Art Galleries in 1937 and was elected to the RP in 1955.

With thanks to


Edith Grace Wheatley (1888 - 1970)
The China Cupboard, 1910