The Adam and Eve, Old Chelsea
About the work
This watercolour is signed by brothers Walter and Henry Greaves, who for a time were both studio assistants of the painter and printmaker James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) in Chelsea.
The watercolour depicts the Adam and Eve public house in Chelsea, which is also seen in an etching by Whistler, who is known to have painted from the balcony of the pub.
As struggling artists, Walter and Henry Greaves were reduced to trying to sell their painted views of Chelsea, such as this example, in local pubs and at tradesmen's entrances.
About the artist
Walter Greaves was born in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea; the son of a boat builder and waterman. He and his brother Henry first met Whistler in 1863. In 1876, four of Walter Greaves’ works were shown at the Royal Aquarium. Greaves and Whistler parted company in 1888, after which Greaves’s career faltered but he received some recognition from 1911, when he had a solo exhibition at the London Gallery. In 1922 his painting ‘Hammersmith Bridge’ was purchased for the Tate and in the same year he had a further exhibition at the London Gallery. Greaves was elected an honorary member of the Chelsea Arts Club in 1921. He died in West London Hospital, Hammersmith, aged 84.
Henry Greaves was born in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea; the son of a boat builder and waterman. He was two years older than his brother, the better known artist Walter Greaves. Both men began their careers as boat builders, but turned to painting after meeting the painter and printmaker James Abbott McNeill Whistler in 1863. They became studio assistants of the celebrated artist, during which time he taught them to paint in an impressionistic style. Whistler eventually withdrew his support of the Greaves brothers. Despite a commission for both brothers to paint murals in Streatham town hall, Henry enjoyed little success as artists. He died in 1904, a year after Whistler, in his sixtieth year.