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Charles Robinson Sykes

(Brotton, Redcar 1875-1950 London)

The River Thames from London Bridge, looking towards Cannon Street Railway Bridge, c. 1930s-40s

oil on board

signed with incision, lower left ‘Charles Sykes’

35 x 40 cm.

in a period frame

Charles Robinson Sykes is most famous as the designer for Rolls Royce’s ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ mascot, also known as ‘Emily’, ‘Silver Lady’ or ‘Flying Lady’. He was commissioned by Lord Montagu in 1909 to make a special mascot for his 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and the wonderfully art deco sculpture of a young woman in fluttering robes became almost immediately synonymous with the luxury car.

Sykes in fact worked primarily as an illustrator, under the intriguingly feminine pseudonyum, ‘Rilette’, producing numerous covers over the years for the magazine ‘Woman’, published by Hutchinson, as well as designing advertisements for the likes of de Reszke cigarettes.

This painting is somewhat unusual within the artist’s oeuvre, and as an Impressionistic oil of the Thames it beautifully captures the hazy atmosphere of London’s early morning ‘pea soup’ smog of the era.

My thanks to Andy Harris for identifying the exact location of this view.

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