'A Game of Bowls' by John Singer Sargent, Ightham Mote 1889
The atmosphere of Ightham Mote has captured many people's attention over the years, and even today visitors say how ‘homely’ it is, and how they feel they could live here. A Game of Bowls is an oil painting of Ightham Mote, painted from sketches made by John Singer Sargent when he stayed at here in 1889.
John Singer Sargent obviously had the same 'special' feeling about Ightham Mote, and the friends he had made whilst staying here. Having been invited to stay by ‘Queen’ Palmer to paint the portrait of her eldest daughter Elsie, another guest wrote about Sargent:
" ... he sketched us as we all stooped in various attitudes, and afterwards he worked the result into one of his best pictures."
Measuring 229.2 cm x 142.9cm (c.56 inches x c.90 inches), Sargent clearly intended the painting to be exhibited. In 1890, it duly appeared at the avant-garde New Gallery, run by Joe Comyns Carr. Whilst Mrs J. Comyns Carr (costume designer Alice Strettell) thought the picture was one of his best, it was greeted like many of his opictures at the time, as 'eccentric'.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
This unique painting is currently on loan from a private collection. It’s a rare original piece of Ightham Mote’s history, showing a scene still there today, and we have the chance to purchase ‘A Game of Bowls’ and keep it at Ightham Mote, where it belongs.