Alldins Coal Wharf - The Old Archway, Chelsea

Alldins Coal Wharf - The Old Archway, Chelsea



Greaves was the son of a Chelsea boat-builder and waterman. He and his brother Henry initially trained as shipwrights but in their spare time drew and painted local views of the Thames and the streets and lanes of Chelsea. In the early 1860s they met Whistler who was to become a close friend and mentor. They took Whistler on the river, acted as studio assistants and became his pupils. The relationship with Whistler lasted until the early 1880s when the irascible master fell out with his hero-worshiping disciples. Walter continued to paint and draw views of the Thames and Chelsea. As with Whistler’s etchings, these were often retrospective views showing the area before the building of the Embankment in the early 1870s, when vast areas of the old waterfront were demolished. Confusion often arises over the dates that appear on his works, as they indicate the date of the retrospective view rather than the date of execution. Much of his life was spent in poverty and in 1922 he was admitted to the Charterhouse as a Poor Brother, where he remained until his death. Greaves letter to G J Greenland, Esq is attached to the backboard of this picture and was written from the Charterhouse. It appears to be in reply to a request for help to date the picture. A note says it was received in December 1929, shortly before the death of the artist: Charterhouse Dear Sir In reply to your letter, the Drawing I think was done about the early seventies, I don’t know the date. Yours truly W Greaves Walter Greaves exhibited his work in London at the Goupil Gallery and Grosvenor Gallery and in the provinces. His early work was painted in a naïve and primitive style but subsequent paintings shared many characteristics with those of Whistler. His work is represented in the collection of the Tate Gallery and elsewhere. Several exhibition of his work were held at the Parkin Gallery in the 1980s. This work shows the archway by Alldin’s Coal Wharf at the end of Cheyne Walk. The area was demolished during the construction of Chelsea Embankment.


Height 77.47 cm / 30 "
Width 60.96 cm / 24 "
Framed height 124.46 cm / 49 "
Framed width 106.68 cm / 42 "