Norman Charles Blamey RA, OBE (1914-2000)

The Flower Stall (1949)

Signed ’N.B’ lower right

Oil on board

51 x 61 cm (20 x 24 ins)

Norman Blamey was born in St. Pancras, London, in 1914, the only son of a chemist and his wife. He was to have a lifelong association with the old St Pancras church which he used as the setting for many of his religious works often depicting himself in the scene. He first studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art where he later went on to teach. His teaching there was interrupted for military service with the army in Egypt, Palestine and the Lebanon during World War II. There, during a spell in hospital, he drew portraits of his fellow patients. He became well known for his portraiture and in the latter part of his career in the 1970’s, he was commissioned for several portraits, many of which now hang in the Colleges of Oxford University.

The Flower Stall is an early work and dates from the year after he married one of his students, Margaret Kelly. She modelled for many of Blamey’s post-war social subjects. They were to have one son.

On the reverse of The Flower Stall the workings of another painting can be seen. It appears to show a woman holding up clothing. Perhaps an idea for his painting from the same year The Jumble Sale.

After the war he went back to teach at the Regent Street Polytechnic. In the 1950’s Blamey began producing his depictions of Anglo-Catholic church ritual. In 1956 painted Christ in His Glory for his commission to decorate the apse of St. Luke’s Church, Luton. Blamey was greatly influenced by Stanley Spencer and by 15th century Flemish art. He moved to the Chelsea College of Art in 1963 and remained there as senior lecturer until 1979. He was elected as a Royal Academician in 1975. He was a visiting lecturer at the RA schools and taught by example, drawing his own pictures to show how he believed it should be done.

He was a gentle and modest man. On his 80th birthday, he was amazed to be asked to lunch at The Tate, which had purchased several of his works. He was awarded the OBE in 1998 and died in January 2000.

Frame: 71 x 81 cm