Tag Archives: Yoshio Markino

Markino returns: alone in this world

The recent Christmas post I did about Yoshio Markino, the Japanese artist who lived in Chelsea, reminded me that there were still some images I hadn’t used in a post, even though I wrote four about him in 2014. I was flicking through Sammy Tsunematsu’s small but exquisite book of Markino pictures when I saw several which cried out to go into a new blog post. Markino is one of those local residents who have become part of a pantheon of characters I’ve written about over the last  few years, like Marianne Rush, Margaret Morris, Mortimer Menpes, Dr Phene, Edward Lynley Sambourne and many others. It’s good to welcome back a familiar face from the bohemian art scene of early twentieth century London. And for anyone who wasn’t reading the blog in 2014 it’s an introduction to a fascinating artist.

Markino - view from beyond serpentine bridge - Copy

This is a typical Markino picture – a little bit of darkness, an indistinct view of distant trees and a spire, a lot of water, with a glimpse of a figure almost off the edge, possibly a woman being rowed along the Serpentine. Markino loved London (“I am in mad love of London”) but he saw it as exotic, a mysterious place full of unfamiliar sights and people.

Markino - Covent Garden at 4am July - Copy

The porters and traders at Covent Garden were just as enigmatic for Markino as any of the London women he admired.

Markino - Sunday morning in Petticoat Lane - Copy

Markino wasn’t just interested in the middle class women he saw coming in and out of theatres, waiting for trains or walking in parks, but also the working class women such as those in this view of Petticoat Lane. The central figure, an old woman examining some cloth, and the sharp eyed man strolling through the crowd are well observed but I think Markino was just as interested, or possibly more interested in the woman on the left, seen from behind with a mass of blonde hair, wrapped up in baggy clothes, her red haired daughter beside her. The most significant action is on the edge of the picture just as in the Covent Garden picture where the two men with mustaches on the right appear to be in close conversation.

One of his rare interiors:

Westminster Abbey - the south ambulatory looking east COL

Westminster Abbey. From a lonely vantage point he observes a group of visitors. Departing I think into a gloomy afternoon.

Markino liked the darkening days of autumn and winter.

Flower sales girl JAI91 p152 - Copy

Late on an autumn afternoon, a flower girl offering a small bouquet to a pair of elegant but indifferent ladies

Trafalgar Square afternoon COL - Copy

The street light s are on again here in one of his favourite spots with more crowds of grey men and colourful women.

Those women take the centre of the picture in this picture of a crowd outside some shops.

Walking in the street - JB - Copy

As evening drew in Markino would wander the night streets, along with many others.

Hotel entrance in Knightsbridge COL

Early evening at a hotel entrance in Knightsbridge,….

Early evening Buckingham Palace COL - Copy

…..or outside Buckingham Palace..

…..or at the Constitution Arch near Hyde Park.

Constitution Arch Hyde Park BB - Copy

Bright lights cut through the gloom in the theatre district.

Night lights in Piccadilly Circus COL - Copy

 

Markino’s friend Arthur Ransome wrote in his book Bohemia in London “The only man I knew in Chelsea was a Japanese artist who had been my friend in even earlier days when both he and I had been too poor to buy tobacco..”

Night coffee stall Hyde Park Corner COL - Copy

.. “there is something gypsyish about coffee stalls, something very delightful…I have often bought a cup of coffee in the morning hours to drink on the paupers’ bench along the railings…that was a joyous night when for the first time the keeper of the stall recognized my face and honoured me with talk as a regular customer. ..I used to spend a happy twenty minutes among the loafers by the stall.”

Posters COL - Copy

“The safety in the midnight. Wherever in this world is such a safe town like London? You can walk anywhere in London at any time in night. You need not have any fear at all. This is awfully convenient to me to study the night effect.”

Walking home he observes a set of posters on the ragged end of a building, rising above a wooden hoarding. Once again at the edge of the scene a crowd shuffles into the night.

Back in his lodgings Markino works on another autumn view.

Markiino - Kensington Gardens in Autumn

Kensington Gardens, unadorned by any figures. Markino remained “in mad love” of London until he finally left it in 1942.  But in San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome or Japan he remained, in his own words:

“I am simple Yoshio Markino, quite alone in this world.”

Postscript

My apologies for the late launch of this post, especially to those who usually read the blog on a Thursday morning. I’m sure some of you will be thinking how could a post on Markino take him more time than usual? Isn’t it just a matter of a few pictures and some text featuring mist, overcast weather, dark smoky streets with dim lights and Edwardian women showing a flash of white petticoats? Well, I guess it is in a way, but nevertheless I think it was worth coming back to Markino. I’ve done a lot on book illustrators in the last year or so and he belongs in that Golden Age group, as one of the best of them.

Quotations from Alone in this world: selected essays and A Japanese artist in London by Yoshio Markino and Bohemia in London by Arthur Ransome.


Christmas days: a Markino bonus

Today’s short post  is a small installment of pictures by an old friend of the blog, the Japanese artist who lived in London, Yoshio Markino. This one is simple called Autumn:

Studio Vol 33 p165 Autumn by Yoshio Markino - Copy

The woman wrestling with her umbrella has a stylized expression of sadness (or merely exasperation) on her face. Behind her the rest of the scene is indistinct ,in a traditional Markino mist.

Below, some images from a biography which was illustrated by Markino. In a Japanese setting a causeway vanishes into a lake of  lillies floating on barely glimpsed water.

Lotus lake at Tsushima p172

A monochrome temple.

Shinto temple of Tsushima p224

London. A stone lion couches in the wet square. Although this image is also in damp fog, the location is unmistakable.

Misty evening in Trafalgar Square p122

A house in south London. There are lights on the ground floor but above a single light blazes from a bedroom.

151 Brixton Road p136

This would have been one of Markino’s early London residences, in Brixton.

This picture, from the Studio magazine is another monochrome view of a familiar London sight.

Studio vol 35 p341 Markino The Clock Tower Westminster - Copy

A small group of people take a walk along the embankment. The night is dark but the woman in the foreground is carrying her coat so it must be a warm evening.

The final image is the most characteristic work. It has Markino’s favourite subject, well dressed women in London on an overcast day.

Two women window shopping in Bond Street, one looking towards the artist. Markino liked to compare London’s women with insects wrapped in carapaces of fur and thick coats.

Beautiful women in Bond Street p158

Behind them yet another mist.

Today’s soft toy is also characteristically Japanese.

PTDC0005 - CopyPTDC0003 (2) - Copy

Happy Christmas from the goth Hello Kitty. HK is also an appropriate companion for the anglophile Markino since it emerged that Kitty’s surname is White and that she and her family live just outside London. Markino would have approved.

See you tomorrow.


Mr Griffen in his studio

Although some people liked my post about Francis Griffen back in July as it turned out there still seems to be little known about him. One reader made a comment about buying  some greetings cards featuring paintings by Griffen. I was already aware of this set, of five pictures. They were originally published by a Mr T G Stanton in the 1990s. I think the same gentleman made an offer to buy our Griffen collection about the same time. (We declined. Apart from our general policy about art works, the collection was donated to the Library by Griffen’s widow.) This is one of the pictures:

An August night 1923

An autumn night, 1923. A completely finished work, as opposed to most of the pictures in our collection. For me, it is reminiscent of one of  Yoshio Markino’s night time pictures of London.

Griffen liked street scenes showing ordinary life in progress but his other major interest was in industrial settings, and this is also reflected in the set of cards.

King's Cross Goods Yard 1937

A fascinating view of King’s Cross goods yard in 1937. Note the man on the horse, and the tram just visible on the right.

Griffen’s Chelsea pictures are less finished but just as effective.

The river Good Friday 1934 2059

This 1934 view of the river looking west is immediately recognisable with St Mary’s Church and the railway bridge but  Griffen has found an angle which doesn’t include Lots Road power station.

The picture below shows a familiar Chelsea scene in 1935, Sloane Square looking towards the original Peter Jones building.

Sloane Square Jan 1935 2063C

It also features a fine example of a group of one of Griffen’s favourite slinky women.

Sloane Square Jan 1935 detail

He captures them and the look of 30s fashion in a few pencil strokes. The quite large dog (maybe a German shepherd, or an Alsatian as they used to be known ) is a realistic touch, obviously much more than a fashion accessory. There’s another fashionable woman in this picture.

Lombard Terrace 1934 2067C 02 - Copy

This is Cheyne Walk looking towards the Old Church. (Incidentally, I’ve had to crop this one a little bit so if the compostion doesn’t look quite right blame me not Griffen)

In the last Griffen post you saw a view of the ruins of the church after the bomb incident that virtually destroyed it. Griffen also recorded the aftermath of another major bomb incident in 1944 at the Guinness Trust buildings in the King’s Road.

Griffen- The Ruined Guinness Trust KingsRoad May 13 1944

This is a rough pencil sketch of the scene some weeks after the incident which was on February 23rd. A couple of bombs had fallen, one fracturing gas and water mains, the other causing the collapse of housing blocks. 76 people lost their lives that night. A volunteer fireman named Anthony Smith won the George Cross for his efforts in saving people and risking his own life by entering collapsed and flooded basements.

This 1953 etching is a view of a house near the Old Church.

Griffen - House next to Old Church June 1953 2065C

Griffen’s work on the details of the house is quite meticulous.

The next two images show work in progress, two versions of the same basic view.

Griffen - Chelsea Polytechnic may 29 1939 2107AGriffen - Chelsea Polytechnic march 01 1939 2104A hand wiped

The pictures are both labelled “Chelsea Polytechnic” but this may not refer to the subject, which looks a little more like Old  Church Street to me. They are dated 1939.

Griffen - In Grosvenor Road July 1951 2098A

This rverside view is called “In Grosvenor Road,1951”, a location just outside Chelsea.

The title of this week’s post promised you Griffen in his studio. And here he is:

Griffen 2054C

A self-portrait of a working artist looking out on his neighbourhood.

Finally, a couple of classic Chelsea images. This is a 1912 picture of a famous sight in Oakley Street.

Griffen - Dr Phene's house Oakley Street 1912 2078A

Dr Phene’s house, ten years or so before its demolition.

Another subject tackled by many local artists, Albert Bridge.

Albert Bridge 2052D 01 (2)

Once again I find myself thinking of Yoshio Markino who painted the bridge from a similar angle. This picture is quite large but I wanted to use it so I scanned it in two sections. You can just see a line on the right. I hope that doesn’t spoil the view.

Postscript

The two greetings cards were published in 1998 part of a set of five by the aforementioned T G Stanton.

I mentioned the reader who made a comment on the last Griffen post to whom I sent a copy of the first image. She mentioned that she had bought the cards in the UK but was now back in Mongolia. I couldn’t help but wonder what Griffen would have thought of his having an admirer who lived so far from his home in Chelsea.


An actor’s life for me: Lena Ashwell

The first time I read the name Lena Ashwell was in connection with a production in 1902 of the Japan-set drama The Darling of the Gods. The second time I came across her was on a walk through 1970s Westbourne Grove  where I encountered the former home of her troupe the Century Players. And then of course there was the role of the Lena Ashwell Players in entertaining troops in the Great War. So it became inevitable there would be a blog post about her. I’ve found this before. A person who seemed obscure or forgotten turns out to have a rich and fascinating history. (And why hadn’t I heard of them before?)  I found so many pictures I decided to concentrate on her pre-war career this time

The director Herbert Beerbohm Tree took Lena to dinner with our friend Yoshio Markino to get some advice on turning Japanese for the part of Yosan.

Darling of the Gods with Beerbohm Tree - Copy

She writes in her memoirs: “The movements and manners and make-up were taught to us by the most attractive and gentle of mankind , Yoshio Markino. Having read of the vegetarian diet and generally small demands of the highly evolved, I watched with envy and admiration that he had only a glass of milk for his lunch….Until I read his book on his life I had no idea that he was starving and that the one glass of milk was all he could buy. Pride may sometimes seem foolishness to the practical, but at the same time it is wise.”

She also says that Tree had not wanted her in the part and that it was the author David Belasco who had insisted on her. Experiences like this may have been the deciding factor in her becoming an actor-manager as she did for her  next project. But before all that she was a promising young actress in the late 19th century….

Rosamund in Sowing the wind 1894

As part of George Alexander’s company she appeared in a play called Sowing the wind in which she understudied the lead to begin with but later took over as a leading lady on a tour. In Ireland during winter the stages were very cold. “Sowing the wind is a costume play and my dress was very thin. The first act took place in a garden and the garden seat on which I had to sit was painted iron – it was almost imposible to prevent a squeal as one sat upon the freezing surface.”

Despite such hardships she was starting to get good notices. She worked for Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. at the Lyceum. In King Arthur “I had a short scene with Ellen Terry in the first act and had to be a corpse in the third….I can still see Sir Henry’s voice as he lifted the veil off my face…The winter was very cold and I had a horrible fear that one night I might sneeze; so a young doctor gave me a spray to use which very nearly ruined my life. I suppose at first it was not realised that cocaine was a dangerous drug.”

Elaine in King Arthur

She was back at the Lyceum in 1896 to play the Prince of Wales in Richard III. Although he deplored the idea of an actress in a male role George Bernard Shaw singled her out for praise as “an actress of mark.”

4 roles - Copy (2)

The memoirs are full of anecdotes about the knockabout lives of young actors. Lena thrived in the life and had a growing reputation.

One of her first big sucesses was in Mrs Dane’s Defence,  with Charles Wyndham. Lena played the title role. “None believed Mrs Dane would be a success. I was a dark horse and Mrs D ane was a woman with a murky past.” But: “Wyndham said that the applause when the curtain fell was the most tremendous he had ever known”

Mrs Dane in Mrs Dane's Defence 1900

The King visited the play, and outside the theatre she saw her own face on rows of picture postcards. She was tasting the celebrity life like any modern actor. “I was pursued by detectives. Wherever I went they were there, watching me in restautants, waiting outside my house, following me in cabs…Whilst I was away in Berlin one of my servants had been bribed to report all my movements”

There were other examples of the celebrity life which would be recognizeable today:

Best dressed 1908

As you can see from the pictures Lena was an attractive young woman. But like many young actresses she worried about her looks. She writes that on the way to a dinner party where she would be introduced to John Singer Sargent she repeated the mantra: “I am very beautiful. I AM very beautiful. I stepped out of the four-wheeler, passed up the staircase, the door was flung open, Miss Lena Ashwell was announced – I caught my foot in something and still bravely repeating the formula fell headlong into the room. The rest is silence.”

The run of Mrs Dane came to an end with the death of Queen Victoria.

Lena returned to Her Majesty’s Theatre to appear in an adaptaion of Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection. The character of Katusha is an innocent girl, later tried as an accessory to murder,who becomes a drunk in prison,  redeems herself in the hospital prison ward and ends up as “a saint in Siberia”

Resurrection 1903

Beerbohm Tree was Prince Dimitry.  Lena says “He had never been through the mill and remained in many ways an amateur.” The famous man sounds a bit trying to me. “During the love-scene in the first act he would amuse himself by unfastening all the hooks which did up my peasant’s dress at the back, leaving me to walk up the stage with my bodice unfastened. Even pins could not deter him, and at last I had to be sown into my frock.”

Enough to drive you to drink..or smoking.

Katusha in Resurrection

Despite the distractions she also perfected a desperate scream for the scene in which Katusha is sentenced to exile in Siberia, which during rehearsals sent people at the theatre running to see who had been hurt. The play Leah Kleschna was written for her by CMS McLellan as a result of her performance.

She remained with Tree at the same theatre for Darling of the Gods. After that she intended to start her own company with her friend the American actor Robert Taber but during  the run of Darling he died at the age of only 38. This was a devastating blow. Not only were they friends but they could have formed a lasting stage partnership.

Bonnie Dundie by Lawrence Irving  with Robert Taber

This was them in 1900 in a play called Bonnie Dundie.

Lena  eventually went ahead with the play,  Leah Kleschna, a drama about a woman burglar.

Leah Klescha 1905

The production was not entirely successful despite being put on in London and New York.  Also a financial failure though “tremendously interesting” was The Shulamite, set in south Africa and first performed in Chicago

The Shulamite with N McKennel-Elsie Chester- Henry Ainley

Lena came back from America ill and disheartened. This was when she met her future husband Dr Henry Simson. (She was not yet divorced from her first husband)

Lena encouraged Cicely Hamilton to write a comedy, Diana of Dobson’s about a shop girl who inherits a small amount of money which enables her to escape the drudgery of retail life for a short while.

Diana of Dobson's - Copy

Lena was thankful to play in a comedy at last.

I’m drawing to a close with a play at the Globe Theatre for which Charles Frohman engaged most of Lena’s company: Madame X.

Madame X 1909

It was another big drama ” I reduced the audience to tears; strong men broke down and sobbed aloud in the boxes; they laid out stores of handkerchiefs. I had many wonderful letters including one from Ellen Terry full of praise especially of my high, high death.”

Madame X

The play was produced, I was interested to note by Dion Boucicault, who we came across as the owner of Hereford House and Coleherne Court. So this post has begun and ended with a link to another, an early case of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. More connections: Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was the father of film director Carol Read, who lived in Chelsea, and the grandfather of Oliver Reed who appeared in the classic Chelsea film I’ll never forget whatsisname. (Both via Tree’s mistress May Pinnet Reed)

There’s much more to Lena Ashwell’s life which we’ll save for another day.

Postscript

This week’s pictures come from Margaret Leask’s book “Lena Ashwell: actress, patriot, pioneer” ,2012, and from Lena’s own “Myself a player” 1936. Thank to Westminster City Archives for loaning me the first and to Kim for transporting it to Kensington. The second I naturally found in our own Biographies Collection, a bona fide treasure trove of rare biographies and the envy of many a library. I found the subjects of two future blog posts down there this afternoon.

Attentive readers will remember that I promised you a post far from Kensington and Chelsea this week. Like all good actors Lena Ashwell found a way to push herself into the spotlight first. But the traveller in antique land will appear soon.

Postscript to the Postscript

I’ve been asked to point out that Margaret Leask’s book is published by the University of Hertfordshire Press (www.herts.ac.uk/uhpress ) and that pictures number 2 (Sowing the Wind), 5 (Mrs Dane’s defence), 6 (Best dressed actresses), 7 (resurrection), 10 (Leah Kleschna) and 13 (Madame X) are taken from that book.  And also that Michael Joseph published the Ashwell memoirs.I’m  happy to do that.


Markino in daylight: the sights of London

“A few years ago there appeared in the doorway of my room a young Japanese with a portfolio under his arm.He looked tired and pale, but as he smiled and bowed, with difficulty keeping his hands from his knees in Japanese salutation, I was struck with his quiet dignity, his air of self-respect, his lustrous intelligent eyes. Would I look at his drawings of London? Of London?-yes, willingly.” – M H Spielmann, 1907

As promised a few weeks ago, this week we’re returning to Yoshio Markino to look at some of his daytime pictures. We’ve already established his credentials as a confirmed London explorer. His love of the city included some of the traditional tourist sights such as the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park. Below is that old feature of a day at the zoo – the ride on an elephant.

At the Zoo COL

Markino was obviously impressed by the elephant but in the Monkey House he was more interested in his fellow visitors. ” I went to the zoo and finished the people first; when I wanted to put in monkeys, I forgot their shapes and colours. I went to the Natural History Museum, which is only five minutes walk. They are dead. They don’t give any movement at all. So I had to journey to the Zoo and study them from life again.”

The monkey house Regents Park COL

He was always just as interested in the people of London as the buildings. For him they were as exotic as each other.

In the picture below of the terrace at the Houses of Parliament the tower and the bridge are a background for the well dressed diners.Uniformed maids and waiters dressed in black and white move through the grandly dressed throng.

Tea on the Terrtace of the House of Commons COL

More formal wear is on show below in the busy streets of the City:

Mansion House crossing COL

Markino said:”When I see the bus drivers, I always recollect Washington Irving’s Sketch Book which I read in Japan when quite young. He has described those coachmen so vividly that when I see those bis drivers I feel they are old acquaintances of mine.”

The shopping streets of the West End where the dresses were more colourful were also on Markino’s rounds as in this view off Oxford Street.

Winsley Street Oxford Street from Gilbey's Portico COL

And of course the parks. Here is that regular activity of park life, feeding the geese in St James’s Park:

Feeding the wildfowl in St James's Park COL

Moving  west to Hyde Park:

Early Autumn at Grosvenor Gate Hyde Park COL

These park scenes are all set in autumn, Markino’s second favourite time of the year (December was his favourite month as we know)

“Early autumn, Hyde Park”. M H Spielmann, Markino’s friend and patron says: “it is not the young lady who has interested him most…

Early Autumn Hyde Park COL

.although she holds her skirt – what Japanese drawing in that skirt -in the way, presumably, which he tells us stirs his admiration so deeply; it is the mist, rather, which floats among the trees in red and russet autumn and heightens by contrast the leaves as they lie upon the ground and throws into strong relief the branches that hang across the top.”

“London without mists would be like a bride without a trousseau”  The weather continued to fascinate the Artist of Fog. But also the young woman.

At the Albert Memorial more visitors including more of those voluminously clad young women seem to ascend and descend the steps with some urgency.

On the step of the Albert Memorial COL

Markino is heading home towards Chelsea.

He enters Albertopolis. This monochrome view shows the grand entrance of the Imperial Institute.

Imperial Institute South Kensington COL

Below the mist-shrouded tower of the Victoria and Albert Museum (then called the South Kensington Museum)  looms like  Gormenghast Castle over the houses in nearby South Kensington

South Kensington Museum - RAR

More museum towers (the Natural History Museum) are visible in this view of Onslow Square. Spielmann, who wrote the introduction to Markino and Loftie’s book the Colour of London was particularly impressed with this view: “Markino shows us Onslow Square and the beauty of an architecture which we have pronounced..most unromantic and uninspired. Yet he has seen colour into it and made a pleasant picture out of repeated porticos and commonplace facades felicitously enlivened by the western sun.”

Spring in Onslow Square COL (2)

South Kensington Station can be seen at the centre of the picture, dwarfed by the towers of Waterhouse’s terracotta masterpiece.

Home again in Chelsea he returns to a much smaller tower by the river:

Chelsea Church - JAIL

Chelsea Old Church (the original, pre-war version) as  we have seen it in Hedderly’s photographs and a painting by Rush, surrounded by foliage. Markino joins the company of Chelsea artists.

Markino lived in London for more than forty years. He followed Londoners through dark nights, clear summer days and misty afternoons.

Spring Mist Westminster Bridge COL

“I am London’s devoted lover and  I want to present her with my brush.”

He wanted to stay with his lover for the rest of his life but in the end events caught up with him. During the Second World War he moved into a small apartment in the Japanese Embassy where he had friends. He sailed for Japan in 1943. This picture of a Japanese ship at the Albert Docks is a kind of  foreshadowing of that journey.

Japanese liner in the Albert Docks COL

As I’ve noted before he was never able to return. So this is an appropriate picture for us too as this is probably our last encounter with the outsider who brought his own unique vision to London.

Postscript

I’ve become a big fan of the diffident Japanese artist since the time I rediscovered him in the Library’s biographies collection while looking for a contrast with Mortimer Menpes. I’m going to miss writing about him and reading his slightly eccentric memoirs. But you’ve seen the best we have now so it’s farewell to another unique Chelsea character until I find something else by him.

We might have another look at Menpes in the weeks to come, or  get back on the river, or explore some of the fictional worlds of Kensington and Chelsea. And I’ve just found some photos of  the Lots Road Power Station you haven’t seen before. So I’m not sure what’s coming next. But for the moment, goodbye to Yoshio Markino, the artist in the mirror world.


Markino: bright lights, big city

I’ve been looking through illustrated books about London in the early years of the 20th century. Herbert Marshall’s Scenery of London and Mary Rose Barton’s Familiar London were both popular then. Flicking through them I found several pictures I liked. But in the end they drove me back to Yoshio Markino who got the first big break of his career when he was commissioned to collaborate with W J Loftie on a book in the same genre called the Colour of London.

Markino loved London and his pictures capture the glamour of the then biggest city in the world. He saw that glamour even at night, on rainswept misty streets where solitary figures wandered alone and where people gathered in the cold and sought out warmth and light.

Victoria Tower Westminster by Moonlight COL

A woman stands under a street lamp watching a man walk away. Am I stretching your credulity if I say it reminds me of one of Edward Hopper’s night time psychodramas? Markino was conscious of the modernity of life in London where new ideas and new objects were entering the life of the old city.

Tram terminus Westminster Bridge Road

The tram terminus at Westminster Bridge  Road. The crowds gather round the departing tram and walk past the brightly lit oyster bar.

According to the Markino scholar Sammy Tsunematsu,  Markino would start his pictures by soaking the paper in water and would begin the backgrounds while it was still damp. This made them appear blurred or hazy, exactly the effect he needed. He called this technique “the silk veil”. He had first become obsessed with mist and fog in San Francisco and had tried for years to perfect a method for capturing it in his paintings.

Evening exodus - west end entering Victoria Railway Station COL

This view is called the Evening Exodus at Victoria Station. The light comes from a series of streetlights and shopfronts each one piercing the gloom.  Markino said: “I don’t think all  the London buildings are beautiful…but it is the London mist, which makes every colours beautifully softened” (Markino’s use of English is eccentric but oddly effective. He even coined new words such as “greyfy” (grey-ify) to describe the effect of fog)

Here is an eastern equivalent at Liverpool Street Station

Evening exodus - east end in Liverpool Street Station COL

Markino used to say that the predominant smell of London was coal, and coal smoke. But coming from Japan where coal technology was a recent development he described the smell as “civilized”. These purposeful crowds were living in a city of high technology and night time pleasures.

Here in Marlborough Street, a back street in Chelsea near Markino’s lodging house there are the same crowds and lights spilling out of shop fronts.

Marlborough Road Chelsea Saturday night COL

There are more women than men in this group. We know that Markino was especially fascinated by the women of London. “I am a great admirer of English ladies. To me those willowy figures seem more graceful than the cresdent moon, while those with well-built figures seem more elegant than peomy flowers…Some dresses are most admirable, in shape as well as in colour. Whatever the shape is, it looks as if it is a part of her own body..” To him the shape of women in their European fashions was an exotic phenomenon. He is a little like an alien who has come to an entirely new world.

In his time there was a Trafalgar Square in Chelsea, not far from Marlborough Street, one of several in London.

Trafalgar Square by night COL

But this is the famous one and in the foreground Markino sees a woman adjusting her petticoats, a characteristic detail for him, a flash of white amidst the grey.

Here another woman walks through the city night but not alone in the crowd.

Evening scene on Vauxhall Bridge COL

One of his favourite destinations was the theatre. This is the Alhambra Leicester Square:

The Alhambra Leicester Square at night COL

Below, the Gaiety Theatre in the Strand.

The Strand - New Gaiety Theatre night COL

The pit queue at Her Majesty’s Theatre:

His Majesty's Theatre the Pit queue COL

This is where Markino got another opportunity to publish his work in December 1903, in connection with a production of the Darling of the Gods by David Belasco and John Luther Long, a play set in feudal Japan with some supernatural elements. Markino painted several pictures for the programme.

DG 04 - CopyDG 06 - CopyDG 05 - Copy

Markino also advised some of the actors on Japanese manners and gestures. He went with Herbert Tree and Lena Ashwell to a Japanese restaurant to discuss the play. (Who knew there was one in London in 1903?). In an essay of 1904 he says was satisfied that both of them successfully embodied Japanese characters, and that Miss Ashwell looked as Japanese as his sister.

After the play, it was out again into the London night. On an Underground station platform Markino sees more of the women he compared to beautiful insects in the lamplight.

On the underground Baker Street COL

Markino is best known for his pictures from the Edwardian period. But his career carried on through the 20s and 30s. He married in London, travelled in Europe and to New York but never quite enjoyed his fair share of good luck in love or money. He had friends and patrons though and carried on painting. This picture come from the 30s. I think the view shows Bush House looking down the Strand.

BBC in the rain BB

He lamented the loss of fog as London expanded and the air became cleaner but the  crowds and the hazy night haven’t changed.

Postscript

The programme notes for Darling of the Gods were written by Raymond Blathwayt who also praises the accuracy of the cast’s performance as Japanese characters. Blathwayt was the critic who called Mortimer Menpes’s Japanese house the most beautiful house in the world. I don’t know if because of this connection Markino and Menpes ever met. Probably not, as  Markino was still moving in Bohemian circles at the time, but it’s a shame that they didn’t as they might have found they had much in common.

There will be another Markino post quite soon concentrating on his daytime pictures. I hope you like his work as much as I do.

On another subject, the unknown artist of last week’s post mentioned Thomas Faulkner’s History of Fulham. I had a look at a Grangerised copy of the book we have at the Library this week. (Grangerising is the practice of binding extra material into a book dating from the time when collectors bought the pages, or “sheets” of a book separately and had them bound to their own design). There were several watercolours bound into that copy which I will be looking at more closely.


More Markino: water and women

And then, as the Japanese smiled unperceived at me, and rolled a cigarette, the superb Wilton turned himself a little on the sofa, rearranged a cushion beneath his elbow, and began a long half-intoned speech about newspapers, the folly of reading them, the inconceivable idiocy of those who write for them, and so forth, while I agreed with him at every point, and the Japanese, who knew it by means of livelihood chuckled quietly to himself…

Wilton must have enjoyed that afternoon. He thought he had a proselyte in me, and he talked like a prophet, till I wondered how it could be possible for any one man’s brain to invent such flood of nonsense. I was happy under it all if only on account of the quiet quizzical smile of the Japanese, who was making a sketch of the orator’s face…

The Japanese excused himself from accompanying us, and went down to the river to make studies for some painting upon which he was engaged…

Arthur Ransome – Bohemia in London (1907)

Electric power works Chelsea COL (2)

Ransome’s Japanese artist with the quizzical smile was Yoshio Markino and he did like to walk by the river, starting in Chelsea but sometimes walking through the whole night.

A winter afternoon Chelsea Embankment COL - Copy

Below, the water runs swiftly past the piers of Albert Bridge.

The running tide Albert Bridge Chelsea Embankment COL (2)

A monochrome view of the same bridge.

Early evening Chelsea Bridge COL - Copy

This water level view was one he was particularly liked. Here is another version a good walking distance away:

Copy of Tower Bridge COL

An even longer walk , or even a train journey in the other direction, past the tidal river:Punting on the Thames - JB - Copy

Punting on the Thames. This picture combines Markino’s love of water, mist and dusk with the other thing he loved most about London, English women. One of the books Markino wrote was the eccentrically (and ungrammatically) titled “My idealed John Bullesses” (1912). In the introduction he apologises for his “home-made English” and admits to having been fascinated by European women since the age of six when his father brought home a chromo-lithograph picture of a young woman. “It seemed to me that this girl was always beckoning me; whenever I looked at it from distance and I always went under the picture and bowed down to pay my homage to her.”

“The quiet and deep blue stream of Thames is very beautiful, and it looks more beautiful when it runs round the green ground with many graceful trees. But these beautiful views could not be so beautiful if the John Bullesses did not visit there. Their dresses in white, pink, and all sorts of light colours break the monotonous greens on the shore as well as in boats, and give some delightful contrast. And when the dusk comes they look still prettier. Have you ever seen the religious picture of Buddhism ? Buddhas and all saints are always sitting on lotus flowers or on its leaves. The idea was to give some nice and cool feeling in such a hot country like India. If I have to paint a picture to give a nice and cool feeling I should paint a John Bulless punting a boat on the Upper Thames. John Bullesses in boats or John Bullesses on the green are the most important element to complete the beauty of the Upper Thames.”

It’s a strange book for the modern reader, half archaic and half modern. Markino was a great supporter of the Suffragette movement – there are chapters on the WSPU and the Suffragette  procession of June 1911. Others deal with his  fascination with fashion, shopping and social life.

Markino observed the women of London wherever he went, at night at the theatre:

Copy of Leaving His Majesty's Theatre the Strand COL

And during the day, in small groups:

Fog - Ladies crossing Piccadilly COL (2)

And in larger gatherings.

A party of tourists before St Paul's Cathedral COL - Copy

These two are set in Hyde Park. This one is of what he calls the Church Parade on a June Sunday:

Copy of A June Sunday - church parade in Hyde Park COL

This is the morning parade on Rotten Row:

Copy of Morning Parade in Rotten Row COL

As good as his daytime pictures are, Markino always returned to the gloom.

Copy of Christmas shopping Regent Street COL

“I often recollect some Japanese insect called ” Mino Mushi,” or ” Overcoat Insect.” This small insect gathers feathers, dead leaves, bark, and everything, and ties them up together with her silky webs, and wears this heavy overcoat. But when she takes off that overcoat, lo, she is a beautiful butterfly. Some John Bullesses bury themselves into such thick fur overcoats in winter. You can hardly see their eyes ; all other parts are covered with foxes’ tails, minks’ heads, seal’s back skin, a whole bird, snake’s skin, etc. etc. They make their size twice or three times larger. But when they get into a house and take off all those heavy wearings, such a light and charming butterfly comes out.”

Outside St George's Hospital - JAIL (2)

…my work is not yet completed. But we say in Japan “That which you like most that you can do best.” Having trust in this proverb I have decided to spend the rest of my life here to study dear London all my life.”

Markino reluctantly embarked on a repatriation boat in 1942. He was never able to return.

Tombstone design - Copy

Tombstone designed by Markino.

The pictures:

Electric power works Chelsea

A winter afternoon Chelsea Embankment

The running tide Albert Bridge

Early evening Chelsea (Albert) Bridge

Tower Bridge

Punting on the Thames

A party of tourists before St Paul’s Cathedral

Leaving His Majesty’s Theatre the Strand

Fog – Ladies crossing Piccadilly

A June Sunday – Church parade in Hyde Park

Morning parade in Rotten Row

Christmas shopping Regents Street

Outside St George’s Hospital

Quotations from the Colour of London and My idealed John Bullesses.

Postscript

It was a close run thing tonight so apologies for any typos or spelling errors. I spent the afternoon following an architect round the all the little rooms of the library sub-basement which will soon become a smaller number of larger rooms.


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