Hugh McKenzie (1909-2005) Modern British artist 'Afternoon in the city'
20th Century oil painting of the city of London by British artist Hugh McKenzie, dated 1969.
Oil on board
Framed size: 21.5 x 27” (54 x 67.5cm)
Unframed size: 17.5 x 23” (44 x 58cm)
Hugh McKenzie’s paintings record the changing face of London during a period of immense architectural upheaval, his knowledge of architecture—by all accounts formidable—was born not of dry historical study but came from his years of experience working with the fire service, which he did throughout the war years and for some time beyond.
Prior to the war McKenzie had trained at the Slade School of Fine Art under Henry Tonks, but hopes of supporting himself as a full-time artist during the slender years of the Depression were slight and he took on a number of administrative jobs in the City. He spent many of his lunchtimes in the pubs, cafes and churchyards of The City, feeding his fascination for its history and observing and noting his impressions in his sketchbooks. In the weekends he noted down the urban topography of Greenwich and Blackheath where he lived. His admiration for the work of Sir William Walcot, Henry Rushbury and Sydney R. Jones remained evident through to the end of his life.
David Buckman writes -
A Prolific figurative artist, who exhibited his first public work aged 10. A spontaneous draughtsman, he completed most pen drawings fast on-site, washing them in at his studio. Studied under Henry Tonks at Slade School of Fine Art, with periods at Goldsmiths’, St Martin’s and Woolwich Art Schools. McKenzie developed an interest in the City of London’s topography when he worked for a bank, then several stockbroking firms. Following rapid lunchtime sketches he would return in the evening or at weekends to elaborate on them. He was made a freeman of the Painter-Stainers’ Company and of the City in 1965. In 1980 McKenzie donated 160 London watercolours to the Guildhall, to augment those bought by the Corporation of London, a selection being shown at the Barbican in 1986.