Completed British 20th C, except portraits, South East England: Artists and Subjects 36 Did Edward Bawden paint this triptych of Hastings Pier?

Topic: Artist

As far as we are aware, this triptych has not been relocated and is still on view (possibly the foyer) at the Conquest Hospital, Hastings. It is cared for by ‘Arts in Healthcare’, which is a charitable organisation within the same NHS Hospital Trust, based at the Conquest Hospital.
Left panel:
Right panel:

Several years ago, Colin Jennings asked us whether this seemingly unsigned work could be by Edward Bawden.

Around the same time, Rowena Rowling told us that the Archiving Group of the Hastings Pier Charity had made extensive efforts to track down the artist and date without success. They had not been able to discover anything about its provenance, beyond the fact that Hastings Boys Club donated it to the Conquest Hospital when it opened in 1992.

We strongly discourage anyone from making a special visit to the hospital to look at this until it’s safe to do so, but perhaps someone already knows the answer.

‘Hastings Fishing Beach, East Sussex’ is similar and in the same collection.

Marion Richards, Art Detective Manager, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

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Peter Nahum,

I do not believe this is by Bawden, He is a very stylised artist.

Peter Nahum,

It is by an illustrator of the date. Try Stanley Roy Badmin - it's a longshot.

Jacinto Regalado,

Bawden did a Brighton Pier, in the 1950s I believe, but that was more in the vein of graphic art.

Louis Musgrove,

Who ever did this-?? - I think it is rather nice :-) . Having looked at some of Bawden's stuff- although similar- Bawden's skies are rather different.

Louis Musgrove,

Stanley Roy Badmin is a posssibility(Peter above) but his skies are also a bit different. Edward Leslie Badham also did similar pictures(style and colour ) of Hastings with people in, and some of his stuff is in Hastings Museum and Art gallery.????

Jacinto Regalado,

Badham, who lived in St Leonards near Hastings, showed a "Hastings Beach" at the Royal Academy in 1935, presumably a watercolour. The Hastings Museum and Art Gallery has a bust of him.

Jacinto Regalado,

Badham seems much more likely a candidate than Bawden. Would it be possible to put this matter on social or local media in Hastings? The work is over 80 years old, but someone local might know something useful about it.

I agree with Peter and others that the triptych is not by Edward Bawden. In regard to Edward Leslie Badham (born 1873) I have known his work for some years. Badham was more traditional in his approach to his art, indeed almost Victorian at times. The handling of the paint in the triptych, and the colours employed, isn't at all like him. It seems to me that the work was painted by a much younger person, possibly someone out of art school for just a few years. It is probably not possible now to know the history due the span of time involved but I am intrigued as to how Hastings Boys Club acquired the triptych. In the years before and after World War II some well-known people with links to Hastings helped to fund local sports and social clubs. Perhaps one of them assisted Hastings Boys Club with the commissioning of the triptych?

Tim Williams,

I wonder if the people who thought it might be Bawden, conflated Bawden with his pupil Eric Ravilious, who lived not far away in Eastbourne. I don't think it is by Ravilious, but it could be a Ravilious pupil from Eastbourne College of Art. I think it dates from the 40s/50s rather than 1930s, going by the costume.

It's worth pointing out that the Boys club was called West Hill Boys' Club and not Hastings Boys Club. There's quite a lot in local newspapers about their sporting prowess, but nothing about this painting (that I can find).

Kieran Owens,

The painting is a fantasy of sorts, as following the completion of the two curved shelters in 1916 there was a prominent bandstand located between and a large pier-wide building behind them. See the fifth (furthest right) images on the second row of this website:

Marine enthusiasts might be able to date the painting if they could identify what appears to be a paddle steamer with a prominent funnel livery at the top of the left-side panel. Also, historians of Hastings' musical life might be able to identify the uniformed band.

Perhaps other contributors can also suggest dating evidence from identifiable elements in the painting.

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Louis Musgrove,

Whilst we are waiting for facebook- I have been reading around this.This has been a mystery for a little while.I wondered if this might be by someone who did railway posters and I came across Herbert Alker Tripp- "Seaside with figures"-1930's.Tripp was also head of the Metropolitan Police , so he might be someone to donate paintings to brighten up the common room of the West Hill Boys Club .???? Just a sideways thought :-) .

I have a lead to follow up with the West Hill Boys Club and the possibility of someone being able to follow up with Bawden's son for their thoughts. 44 likes to date, 5 shares, two comments thinking 1940s or mid 1930s. Will wait today for anything more before acting.

E. Jones has kindly sent contact details for the National Association of Boys and Girls Clubs and the Hastings Round Table, both of whom were associated with local boys' clubs from the 1930s, in case they have archives relevant to the enquiry. I've sent messages to both.

I think the three works are likely to date to circa late 1940s / early 1950s. Given that the paintings apparently have no identification marks, labels etc, I think it unlikely that they were intended to be entered into a formal art exhibition for sale. It seems to me more probable that they were commissioned for display during the summer holidays on Hastings Pier or perhaps some other prominent location in the town, or for a festival (perhaps for example associated with the Festival of Britain 1951). It is unlikely that a well known artist such as Edward Bawden would accept such a commission without being credited for his work. A very competent commercial artist is, I think, a better bet. Again purely supposition on my part, but I suspect that once the display had served its purpose the triptych was removed and deposited with West Hill Boys Club, before finding a permanent home with the Conquest Hospital.

I have been in contact with the three-times Group Leader of West Hill Boys Club, who has provided us with some useful information. He has been associated with the club since the late 1950s and remembers the paintings hanging in the house used for committee meetings, one on one wall, the two other paintings on the other wall. He has no recollection of the other Hastings Fishing Beach painting.

He did not know the name of the artist, but said it was a local artist and that he thinks that there is a signature on one of the paintings. (As the images are so small I will ask the Art Detective contact at the Hospital if the paintings could be checked for a signature). He said that the paintings were given by this local artist to the Club at some point between 1938 and 1945 when Ernest Filcox was Chairman and Chief Constable Cargill was heavily involved in the Club. He says the paintings were lent to Conquest Hospital when it was set up as the then Club Chairman, Eric Gates was involved with the hospital.

That is tremendously helpful David. Thanks to you and the team for your work on this. The probable presence of a signature gives us a reasonable opportunity of identifying the artist. When checks are made against all three works would it be possible please for someone to check the backs for any inscriptions or labels? I have got six volumes of my notes on Sussex artists from the 19th and 20th centuries so hopefully there may be something in there to help us with this.

There was an offer made by the Art Detective contact at the hospital, post-Covid, for someone to visit these panels in storage to see if an inspection might yield something to advance this discussion. I have just emailed the contact to see if the situation is now considered more amenable for such a visit. David

Our Art Detective contact at Conquest Hospital has emailed back, and is very busy until the end of April, but has made progress on advancing this discussion and will happily this these when things have quietened down.

Marcie Doran,

Could the artist be William Edward Narraway (1915–1979)? My composite is based on this painting and Narraway's 'St Ives Fish Sale' Compare the family grouping (man, woman and child) in the foreground of each work. The child holds the red bucket in the image on the left, and the woman holds the red bucket in the image on the right. In Esher, Surrey, in 1939, Narraway reported that his profession was "Artist, Commercial Advertising".

Grant, yes, I have scheduled to re-establish contact with our Art Detective contact at the end of April to inspect the triptych in person, as suggested by the contact (see my update 29/03/22). As I believe that you might very kindly be in a position to lend your expertise on the matter Grant, I was going to try to find a date when both someone from Art Detective could accompany you on the inspection. I will update here as soon as access can be confirmed. Regards, David

Tim Williams,

Norman Clark (1913-1992) would be another name to throw into this hat. He won the Landseer prize in mural decoration, so had some form for large scale works, was Sussex based from the mid-40s - teaching at Brighton. He used similar perspective and colouring.