Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta Sailor Study - 1952

Drawing, chalk on paper, 30in x 20in

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Spencer grew up in the golden age of the Thames regatta, when the river became not just a route for commerce, but a place of entertainment and leisure. Rowing and other skills, previously the province of paid watermen, became popular pastimes for amateurs. Attracting 10,000 people at its peak, the regatta at Cookham followed an established pattern, with races followed by a concert and fireworks. As in Spencer’s Regatta series, fashion dictated that gentlemen wore white trousers, striped flannel coats and straw hats, and ladies elaborate hats and full-length dresses. In this drawing, the sailor holding a Union Jack may be an early idea for the bowsprit of the pleasure steamer, the ‘May Queen’, in the foreground of ‘Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta’ (no. 8). Steamers were not universally popular, and were nicknamed ‘tea kettles’ on account of their smoke and noise.

Lent by a private collector