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The Artist's View Sunday London Ride - 11 June 2023

A dozen or so Fridays riders gathered at Hyde Park corner on a gloriously sunny day, ready for a meander around parts of London some of us hadn’t been to before in search of the locations where famous artists had lived or worked.  


Bob was our leader, and when we saw his clipboard of notes, we knew we were in for an informative and entertaining few hours.  And so it was, an eclectic collection of bicycles (and riders) - including a nicely pimped Brompton - set off in search of the elusive.


Our guide Bob

We learned about Whistler who had set up in Chelsea (presumably without his mother) and who is commemorated by a statue gazing at the Thames opposite the house where he lived.  And we headed through Battersea Park to discover the house in Stockwell where Vincent Can Gogh lodged, where he fell in love with his landlady’s daughter (and it is rumoured, fathered her child), before we reflected on the plaque commemorating the residence of William Blake which, at the time he lived there would have had views down to the river.  Not today.

As we stood on Waterloo bridge, Bob pointed out the Savoy to those not so familiar with that great London landmark, and which on more than one occasion housed Claude Monet. The Savoy is instantly recognisable when walking up Strand, perhaps not so much when looking at it from the river.  There was some discussion about which rooms he had stayed in when he painted (on the now gone balcony) his famous pictures of the river.   

Monet: The Thames at Westmminster [photo Wikicommons]

A comfort break in crowded Covent Garden was followed by a visit to the site round the back of the Royal Opera house where Pablo Picasso worked as a set painter, and which has a very well disguised plaque.   Well spotted Bob.  Whilst living in London Picasso was taken to Saville Row and kitted out in a traditional English suit, complete with Bowler hat.  

We discussed the Bloomsbury Set - “Lived in squares, loved in triangles”, chatted in Soho about Canaletto’s use of the Camera Obscura to help with his paintings, some of which seemed to make London look like Venice.

Canaletto: Westminster Bridge [photo: Wikicommons]

The day was getting hotter, but we were still having great fun when we did half a lap of Regent’s Park and pedalled past the groups of people waiting to cross the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing to emulate a much more modern iconic picture.  This was almost next door to the house where Lawrence Alma-Tadema lived and worked and where we could see the aluminium dome which reflected the light in his studio.

And then we were back in the West End, discussing Rosetti before weaving our way to Russell Square for some much needed rehydration.


A great morning discovering new things.  Well done Bob!

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