George Chambers Junior (1829 – 1878). Oil on Board, Signed and inscribed on a Plaque, 11” x 18” (27.9cm x 45.7cm).
George Chambers Junior (1829 – 1878).
George Chambers ‘junior’ was the eldest son of the Whitby born seaman who turned into a fine marine painter George Chambers senior (1803- 1840) and wife Mary Anne. George junior was born in London, Wapping Wall and was baptised George William Crawford at St Paul’s Shadwell on the 8th of July. ‘Crawford’ was apparently in honour of the Wapping inn keeper, Christopher Crawford who was a patron of his father and possibly even a Godparent.
He is usually referred to as George Chambers Junior which is how most of his work was signed in one form or another. Much of his work clearly depicts the influence of his father and marine inspiration in terms of composition and metropolitan reflection which is prominent in his scenes. Views of the river Thames, the Hussle and Bussle of maritime commerce which often captured prominent buildings in the background, and arguably the most accomplished being small freely painted depictions of a moment in time, a working day on the water. His work outside of London captured scenes on the South Coast, Yorkshire and Holland. Detail, particularly ships rigging, and verisimilitude was and remains a distinctive feature of his style.
On his father’s death, after a long decline from tuberculosis, George who was just eleven years old, was admitted to the Greenwich Hospital School thanks largely to the influence of E H Locker, the hospital’s senior commissioner, who was one of George seniors’ patrons in commissioning works for presentation to the Naval Gallery in the Hospitals Painted Hall, the most notable being The Bombardment of Algiers 1816 in 1836. It is unsure as to whether George Junior actually went to sea during his early years, however given his location and the fact that most ‘Greenwich’ boys did, certainly possible. In 1852 he was married in London to Susanna Warrell (1829-1889) and had four known children. Whether all survived is unclear but they had two boys and two girls that much is known.
During his life Chambers lived at numerous addresses across London and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1850 -1861, the British Institution from 1848 -1862 and also the Society of British Artists from 1850-1862. There are several South American landscapes of which at least one is signed, suggesting that at some point in time he worked there, which arguably supports the narrative that the report of him both working and dying there in a riot in Trinidad circa 1900, carries some weight. While these views remain unsubstantiated, they were outlined in E. H. H. Archibald’s Dictionary of a sea painter, and in Alan Russett’s full study of his father, which discusses him.
Whether he did or did not cross the Atlantic will perhaps remain unknown, and while he did not exhibit after 1862, English subjects into the 1870’s are recorded. More recently, it was confirmed that he died on the 12th of January 1878 aged just 49-year-old and was at the time still living in Clapham Junction London, the cause of his death being recorded as a replication of his father being pulmonary tuberculosis.
His work continues to command great interest and has been offered at auction many times, his most noticeable commercial piece being ‘Shipping off Greenwich’ being sold at Bonhams New Bond Street London in 2003 for the equivalent sum of 45,598 USD.
Antiques.co.uk Ref: 6BWE72P25
- George Chambers Junior (1829-1878).
- Oil on Board.
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