Arthur George Walker RA, Tea in the Studio

Tea in the Studio, 1932

Arthur George Walker RA (1861 - 1939)

RA Collection: Art

Arthur George Walker RA was an artist bordering on obsessive. This interior view of his Chelsea home-studio acts as a portrait of the man and his character. Elected to the Royal Academy as a sculptor, Walker was also an accomplished painter. The space depicted in this painting is immaculate and well-ordered; it seems more like a gallery than a workshop. Displayed around the room are countless of Walker’s sculptures, including the back view of his Diploma Work Grief (1915) on the plinth by the doors, The Necromancer (c. 1926) on the ledge behind the figures and the equestrian statue of John Wesley (1930s) at the rear.

The number of sculptural works in this painting attest to the sheer volume of Walker’s output; for him, art was everything. Indeed, the novelist Kineton Parkes wrote in 1931 that Walker was “one of the greatest workers. His work is his life, and he has no interests outside it.” Perhaps this is why the pair at the table, including the artist’s brother Harold on the right, appear somewhat frustrated that Walker cannot spare a moment to sit and have tea. Harold looks on with resigned impatience and his female companion makes it clear that posing for the painting is an unwelcome interruption in her teatime conversation.

The lack of clutter and mess is surprising for a studio. Sculpting – particularly carving marble and plastering – creates all sorts of detritus. Yet here we are presented with a spotless interior. This is a conscious decision by the artist; either he made a special effort to clear the space before welcoming his guests, or he subtly excluded from his painting whatever mess he saw in front of him.

Object details

Tea in the Studio
Object type
Oil on canvas

620 mm x 510 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Bequeathed by Arthur George Walker RA 1939
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