A rapid, spontaneous study, almost certainly made en plein air, this is another version of the social occasion which Greenham delighted in painting. A relationship to British landscape posters between and after the Second World War is still faintly apparent; but this is also a vivid study of sunlight on grass and fabric, and sunlight seen through the trees. Light scintillates on the white shapes of dresses and parasols and transmutes in the shadows to nacreous colour. Like other paintings by Greenham, a realistic study of life outside, it is at the same time a flat, decoratively-patterned surface.
Robert Duckworth Greenham (1906-76) was born in Streatham, the elder brother of Peter Greenham R.A. He trained at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools (1926-29), where he was awarded a Landseer Scholarship, Creswick Prize, Silver Medal for painting, and the British Institute Scholarship.
He was a very versatile artist: as well as paintings, he produced etchings, prints, wood engravings and murals. He was perhaps most popular during the period when he was painting coastal and beach scenes, set mainly in Suffolk; other subjects included fêtes, regattas and other, generally outdoor, social occasions. These landscapes and other scenes are characterized by strong outlines and areas of flat colour, rather poster-like in style, where the shapes of deckchairs and parasols take on an almost abstract life. In the 1930s and ’40s Greenham made a series of portraits of actresses and film stars, including Greta Garbo and Jessie Matthews, inspired by cinema stills.
He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, New English Art Club and the London Group; at the Royal Society of British Artists and Royal Institute of Oil Painters (to both of which he was elected); the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, as well as many commercial galleries.
Works in public collections include Martita Hunt (after 1943), London, National Portrait Gallery (from the series of portraits of stars, inspired in this case by a photograph for Vogue of Hunt by Cecil Beaton); Portrait of E. Byford, 1928, Braintree District Museum; St Peter Port…, 1974, Guernsey Museums & Galleries.