Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 38 Could this be 'In the Market Place, Concarneau'?

Topic: Subject or sitter

In 1909 Davidson exhibited 'In the Market Place, Concarneau, Brittany' as no. 134 priced at £20 (Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts?).

This looks like a French town. Could it be Concarneau? It is probably possible to identify it by the pedimented building at the left.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The location was identified as La Grand Place, Nieuport (Nieuwpoort) in Belgium.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


The 'Aberdeen Press and Journal' of 7th June 1910 includes ‘In the Market Place, Concarneau’ in a report on 'the late Mr George Davidson's work'. It was shown at the Edinburgh International Exhibition, then had the place of honour at the Northern Arts Club Exhibition, but it may have been at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts earlier.

Hetty Startup,

I don't think its Brittany based on the stepped pyramid shaped building next to the pedimented one. But its an 'off the top' kind of observation.

Jacinto Regalado,

Between 1905 and 1910, Davidson travelled extensively in France, Holland, Belgium, Spain and North Africa. This looks northern European, as the current title says, but probably not Brittany.

Paul L,

"Continental Market" at McEwan Gallery has some of the same stepped roofs and a very similar green covered wagon with large wheels, so could be the same location. The church and tower in the latter do make it look like Flanders, especially with the red roof tiles.

Alana Duggan,

Paintings of Concarneau, from this period, typically include women in traditional Breton dress. I wonder if this might be a rural marketplace near one of the art colonies that were popular during this period? Belgium: Sint-Martens-Latem, Tervuren, France: Giverny, Grez-sur-Loing, Pont-Aven, Etaples etc. Holland: Bergen, Laren, Domburg.

S. Elin Jones,

As mentioned in a newspaper article that discusses the posthumous exhibition of George Davidson's work in Mr Keeson's gallery in Diamond Street, Aberdeen, of the 44 examples of his work, there are paintings depicting various locations in the exhibition. These locations include scenes from Scotland, France, Belgium, Britanny, the Netherlands and Morocco.

"There are several capital paintings of scenery in and around Nieuport, Pont Aven, and Concarneau, several of them impressionistic in style, and others carefully finished, but all bearing the stamp of an artist mind and well-trained hand"…

Could this painting be a view of Nieuport?
Would it be worth enquiring with the 'Northern Arts Club' about whether they still have an archive of paintings?

After the death of George Davidson, the Northern Arts Club were gifted two paintings by the artist. The first was an oil painting of Pannanich. that was donated by J.A.H Hector on behalf of the personal friends of the late artist. The second, a painting of Nieuport, was presented by James A. Davidson (the artist's brother) on behalf of the artist's family.

i) The Aberdeen Daily Journal, 7.6.10 - George Davidson Exhibitiion.
ii) The Aberdeen Daily Journal, 25.6.16 - Northern Arts Club, Nieuport.

Jean Pierre Cappoen,

I agree with Osmund, tiles ans houses with teeth (maison à redents) are not from Brittany but rather from Flanders. I asked Concarneau's city Hall and I join their answer Jean-Pierre Cappoen

Bonjour Monsieur,

Il est peu probable qu'il s'agisse de Concarneau. Tout d'abord, le titre de l'œuvre mentionne "l'Europe du Nord". Effectivement, les pignons à redents ne sont pas caractéristique de la région non plus. Et surtout, les tuiles ne sont utilisées qu'à de rares exceptions en Bretagne, les toits sont essentiellement en ardoise.

Espérant vous avoir aidé, je vous souhaite une bonne journée
Bien cordialement,
Responsable adjointe
Service patrimoine

Tél. 02 98 50 38 66 /

Ville de Concarneau
Hôtel de Ville - B.P. 238
29182 Concarneau Cedex
Fax 02 98 50 38 38

Jean Pierre Cappoen,

"Continental Market" at McEwan Gallery is interesting because we have "un beffroi" (a belfry I suppose) and you can choose with
which one fit. It is a small town in Belgium Furnes for the french speaking people or Veurne in flemish. You will find a point of view with Google maps quite similar with George Davidson picture. Continental Market has been painted at Furnes or Veurne as you prefer. Do you agree ?

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Louis Musgrove,

Except is is not quite right- did he edit the view?????

Kieran Owens,

Marion, could you please post a hi-res image of the writing on the wall on the building on the left-hand-side of this painting.

As for its being Furnes/Veurne there is no credible comparison architecturally between this painting's two-story pedimented building and that town's three-story one. It is, in reality, not a credible suggestion.

I can't see how suggestions so far work either but its good to learn that the French for a step-gable is 'pignon à redents'. Marcie's Knokke-Heist image at 10/11/2023 02:55 was an intriguing coincidence in terms of the general space shown, but prompts the thought that - if in Belgium - the First World War (or even WWII) may have destroyed what Davidson saw. While many post-war reconstructions replicated historic buildings lost, many also did not. Put another way, if the location is identifiable it may be on the evidence of pre-WWI postcards or other photos than modern images.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, I don't think Jean Pierre was suggesting Veurne for our painting (which as you say is most unlikely); it is, however, unquestionably the subject of the Davidson seen on the McEwan Gallery website**. Its relevance here is that the works are comparable, both in subject matter and in some aspects of the architecture (as well as general feel), and it is reasonable to suppose they might have been painted in the same sort of area. But the scale of the buildings in ours does indeed suggest a rather smaller and less important town.

(**Well done, Jean Pierre, for identifying that. It [the McEwan Gallery painting] shows the view NW across the Applemarkt in Veurne, and in the background a corner of the Grote Markt with the Belfry (left) and Sint-Walburgakerk (right) beyond. See attached and

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Jacinto Regalado,

Even though there has been no exact match, it is clearly plausible for the painting in question to be of a Belgian or perhaps Dutch location, certainly much more so than a Breton one.

The present Marktplein (8620 Nieuwpoort) with the old city hall on the south side is certainly not like it - a much bigger space with the long axis east/west -, nor are there obvious old photos, except of the Halle and its belfry tower.

Osmund Bullock,

That's brilliant, Louis - very well done. No doubt about it - the inscription on the Cran painting even confirms it is correctly identified. Actually it was Elin who first suggested Nieuport / Nieuwpoort 10 days ago, though Jacinto was only 13 mins behind her!

Just trying to find a comparable pre-WWI postcard image to make the case 110%.

Osmund Bullock,

Ah yes - the shop front impinging on the right side of the pediment (or at least the space below it) is distinctive, and also recorded faithfully by the ever-accurate Davidson (though cheated away by Cran).

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Osmund Bullock,

And to reinforce Louis' point about the WWI destruction of the town, this was the market place in 1920, with nothing but rows of temporary buildings visible.

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Thank you for interesting contributions, as ever, and another excellent discovery! I'll send the McEwan Gallery a link to the discussion, unless anyone has done that?

Well done all: how many signs can be deciphered?

'Estaminet/A La Fortune/ Logement' (cafe and lodgings) are clear enough as the building of which Davison only shows the extreme left parapet wall at the far end of his view, flanking a grey two-bay frontage to its left. I can't read the one on the sstreet-corner end of the row.

Most of the pedimented building to left appears in the postcard to be the 'Estaminet de Gotland [? or Zetland]', with 'Au Bon Marche/ Delhaize Freres. C[i]e[?]' to its right: the p/c shows the latter's two upper windows flanked by three vertical advertising signs in the same script so probably for a single entity of which that to left reads (upwards) 'Henreid'.

Otherwise it looks like problem solved as the north-west end of the Market Place (La Grande Place), Nieuport/Nieuwpoort, Belgium, as it existed before destroyed in WWI.

Osmund Bullock,

A clearer version of the postcard (attached) reveals the sign at the centre of the pedimented building actually reads 'Estaminet de Beiaard'. An 'estaminet' is a regional name for a small cafe-bar, while a 'beiaard' is the same as a carillon...and that is apparently (in this context, being almost next to a church) "a set of bells, often in a bell tower, sometimes operated by means of a keyboard or pedals" [origin Low Countries], OR "a tune adapted to be played by bells". We live and learn.

The grocery, Delhaize Frères, still exists as part of the huge Dutch-Belgian international retail/supermarket business, Ahold Delaize. It was founded in Belgium in 1867, and even c.1915 already had 500 stores in the country:

Perhaps Davidson was staying at the Hotel du Pelican.

Thanks Osmund: that's pretty much chapter and verse on an interesting historic image as well as a good painting

Nieuport is still a pleasant place, though the approach by sea (which is how I once accidentally arrived there) is offputting in that all one sees from miles out is blocks of no doubt expensive beachfront flats standing like monoliths across the horizon. But behind them is a pleasant little town and there's a tram that conveniently trundles you up and down the coast to Ostend, linking it with others similar. All 'très bourgeois' but very civilised.

Thank you to S. Elin Jones for the original suggestion and the later compelling evidence from Louis Musgrove and Marcie Doran that this depicts the market place, Le Grand Place, Nieuwpoort in Belgium. We know that Davidson painted the town and that a view of it by him was given to the Northern Art Club in 1916. Could this be it?

Since the Northern Arts Club in Aberdeen is still a very active one, it is hard to see how this picture 'presented anonymously' to the city museums in 1975 could be the same one - though if the NAC's is dated that would suggest when this one was also done.

I hadn't noticed that J.A.H. Hector (see the biographies list) plays a bit part in the story: we've met him before as painter of the portrait of Prof. Jules Desseignet, also at Aberdeen