The Buttonhole by Charles Spencelayh

  • This charming work was composed by the renowned English genre painter Charles Spencelayh
  • Entitled The Buttonhole, it reflects Spencelayh's mastery of domestic scenes
  • His meticulous attention to detail remains unsurpassed
  • His work is highly sought after, though examples rarely become available on the market
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 29-4020

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Charles Spencelayh
1865-1958 | British

The Buttonhole

Signed “C.SPENCELAYH” (lower left) and inscribed “This Drawing was accepted into the Royal Academy but crowded out for want of space” (en verso)
 Watercolor and pencil with gum arabic on paper

One of the most important English genre painters in the Academic style, Charles Spencelayh's anecdotal scenes are among the best of his age. This work, entitled The Buttonhole, captures the celebrated painter’s preferred subject – an elderly gentleman performing an ordinary task. Spencelayh’s talent for portraying the common man with an engaging sentimentality remains unsurpassed, and his everyday narratives imbue his work with an undeniable timelessness.

He trained at the National Art Training School (later renamed the Royal College of Art), where he flourished in his figural drawings. Spencelayh continued his education in Paris, where he exhibited at the Salon with much success. His primary exhibition venue throughout his career was the Royal Academy, where he showcased 30 paintings from 1912 to 1958. His incredible canvases were hung in the leading art venues of the day and gained him membership into the most prestigious art societies.

During his lifetime, Spencelayh was greatly admired by many influential collectors, including Queen Mary, who provided the artist and his family a residence in Manchester. Spencelayh painted a postage-size portrait of King George V for the Queen’s dollhouse that currently resides in Windsor Castle. Today, his work is highly sought after, though examples rarely become available on the market.

Circa 1940

Paper: 15 1/2" high x 11 3/4"
Frame: 26 1/2" high x 22 5/8" wide 

Charles Nicholls & Son, Manchester
Sotheby’s, Chester, 27th April 1989
Private collection, United Kingdom
M.S. Rau, New Orleans
The Buttonhole by Charles Spencelayh
Maker: Spencelayh, Charles
Period: 1919-Present
Origin: England
Type: Paintings
Depth: 1.38 Inches
Width: 22.63 Inches
Height: 26.5 Inches
Style: Academic
Canvas Width: 11.75 Inches
Canvas Height: 15.5 Inches
The Buttonhole by Charles Spencelayh
The History of Academic Art and the Salon

Art of the 19th century was ruled by the academic tradition. The term “Academic art” is used to refer to art sanctioned by the established institutions of Europe, particularly the French Academy and the 19th-century Salons. Usu...

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