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Louise Jopling: A Research Project
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67

Five o'Clock Tea


Date:1874  
Medium:oil on canvas  
Size (cms):111.8 x 144.2 cm  
Size (ins):6' x 4'  
Signature:  
Inscription:  
Frame:  
Collection:  
Accession No:  

 

Subject:figures, genre, Japanese, interior  
Place:  
Sitter:  
Sitter Note:  

 

History

Exhibited:RA 1874 (cat. no. 1047)  
Further Exhibitions:RA 1874 cat. no. 1047  
Sale Provenance:sold to Messrs. Agne"w, London, for 400 gns. Sold by Agnews on 12 Oct 1874 to John Walker esq 'West Derby nr Liverpool' ''Mr John Walker, Osborne House, Llandudno' for £420 [1874]  
Alternative Title:  
Note:Japanese tea party only known by litho reproduction. Repr in Magazine of Art Vol. 3, no. 8, 1880, p. 281.  

 

Bibliography

Reviews:The Circle, April 1, 1874, Jopling PC bk1, 2369.jpg, The Observer, Jopling PC bk 1, 2372, The Times, July 1, 1874, Jopling PC bk 1, 2375.jpg  
Jopling 1925 Quote:'I am afraid that, as an oil painter, I took the lion’s share (although we each had our own model every other day), particularly as I started a big canvas, six feet by four, on which I painted “Five o’Clock Tea” – a bevy of Japanese maidens, seated on the floor, drinking tea. In this picture I utilized the pretty dresses that I had bought at the Japanese warehouse when I was in Paris. It was great f painting this picture. I made my girl friends pose for me, and afterwards I regaled them with real tea. Another picture was from myself in Japanese attire. These two pictures were accepted at the Academy, and both were well hung. I sent them in under my prettier name of “Louise Romer.” However, my husband begged me on Varnishing Day to change it to “Louise Jopling.” He was so genuinely interested in my success as an artist that I was only too glad to accede to his wishes. Soon after the Private View, I was taken in to dinner by Sir Frederick Leighton, who said, as he gave me his arm, “But no to ‘five o’clock tea,’” which was a charming way of saying that he had noticed my picture. But, then, kindness was one of Sir Frederic Leighton’s most charming qualities. “Five o’Clock Tea” was purchased by Messrs. Agnew for £4.' Jopling 1925, chapter 7  
Other Quotations:'Here comes another big picture by a non-member. It is not quite as large as the last just wheeled away, but it is equally worthy of the attention which it will no doubt command. It is the work of a lady whose name has been before the public on other occassions. Mrs Louise Jopling (nee Mrs Romer) has, however, never painted anything so ambitious of powerful as this "Japanese Tea-party," representing a group of Japanese ladies in the costume and head-dress of their country, squatting on the floor of a Japanese parlour to have an afternoon tea. The novel subject of this picture alone, will sure to prove attractive, but the bright and vivid colouring, and the broad and masterly manner with which it is painted, will also be deservedly commended[?]. (PC bk1,The Circle, April1, 1874) 'Mrs. Jopling, who was once Mrs. Romer, exhibits a portrait and a couple of genre pictures, all full of power, but the gracefulness of which is marred by their being painted in the Japanese style' (PC bk 1, Times?, 1874) 'several cleverly-painted groups, notably that called "Five O'Clock Tea" (1,047), by Mrs. Jopling, formerly Mrs. Romer, representing Japanese life, but whether from actual study in Japan we are unable to say.' (PC bk 1, Observer, No date) 'Mrs. Jopling adopts the bolder and more independent course of painting as an English lady rather than like a native artist. "Five o'clock Tea" (1047), a symmetrical composition of Orientals squatting, imbibing, and gossiping, has the breadth, centralization, and unity of Western art. The colour too has keeping: it gains caomparitively quiet concords in the surrender of the violent contrasts and the assailant harmonies which are usually in this ultra-Orientalism pushed to extremes. Yet some fatality is sure to befall these vagrant eccentricities; thus here, instead of study, we have mere show; and where we have a right to look for care, we encounter carelessness. The picture, we fear, can scarcely be naturalized either in England or Japan; the hands are too badly drawn for London society, and the draperies wold sell very cheap in the markets of Yeddo. The conclusion forced upon us by these and other works of the kind is that the uses to which Chinese and Japanse art can be turned are chiefly, if not exclusively, those of decoration. Little is to be learnt in the way of architecture, sculpture, or the painting of the human figure' (PC bk 1, ?, 23 May, 1874, 2373) 'There are numerous Japanese subjects in this year's Academy, but "Five o'clock Tea" stands out from among them with marked individuality' (PC bk 1, 2374) includes image 'Alfred Thompson's "Embroidery" (999), and "A Japanese Cleopatra" (1,001), with F. Moscheles's treatment of the same subject (654), and "On the banks of the Kanagawa" (1,006), and Mrs. Romer's "Five o'clock Tea" (1,047), are all products of that Japanese inspiration now so active among English artists. It must be owned, gallantry apart, that the lady has turned this inspiration to best account. Not only have her Japanese beauties more of the national character than either Mr. Thompson's or Mr. Moscheles's, but she has not pushed the supremacy of merely material splendour so far in their costumes, while giving quite as full play to its artistic qualities of colour and quaintness of character. Mrs. Jopling's ladies look actually like a party of Yokohama or Nagasaki belles as a visitor might drop in upon them at their "5 'clock tea" (PC bk 1, The Times, July 1, 1874, 2375) ‘Minores canamus. Here are two very nice clever pictures indeed, by two equally nice and clever artists – one a lady, the other a gentleman – whom we bracket together, as both have taken an always amusing, although somewhat threadbare, subject – that of the patient people who trot about from studio to studio for the purpose of being painted, and who are much oftener out of their clothes, or, at least, in the garments of other people than in their own. “A Modern Cinderella” (64) is by Mrs. Jopling, late Mrs. Romer, and that she is a very nice painter there can be no manner of doubt. Long since she earned considerable applause as a vigorous and appreciative portraitist: and subsequently she manifested in her “Five o’clock Tea” not only much artistic breadth and skill in composition, but considerable qualities of humour. The Modern Cinderella’s name is supposed to be Lisa; and although we are only permitted to see her back hair, and a considerable dorsal development not too oppressively draped, we are entitled to assume that she is an Italian, and facially fair to see. She is an artist’s model. She is qualified by Mrs. Romer as being “patient.” Models are professionally patient. They are always sitting on monuments and smiling at grief for so much an hour. “The hour,” according to Mrs. Romer, “struck;” and then Lisa, “like a second Cinderella, divested herself of her brilliant plumage” – it is to be supposed that Lisa had been sitting for the portrait of Anna Carafa or Mademoiselle de Montpensier – “and prepared to attire herself in her own homely garments.” This startling piece of information purports to be extracted from “Word Sketches, by an Artist” – a descendant possibly of the Immortal Anonymous who penned the “fallacies of Hope,” or a relative, haply, of that mysteries “Man of the Street” who told my Lord Echo so many wonderful things. It is surely not unjust towards a very talented lady to hint that “the Modern Cinderella” displays considerable poverty of invention; but we assure her that her picture is none the worse for its triteness of theme and its meagreness of interest…much greater praise is due to Mrs. Jopling than mere commendation for having done very well what a hundred artists have done before. Her picture is full of vigorous drawing and bright colour: and if next year she will turn Lisa round, and exhibit her countenance-we are sure it is an expressive one-we shall be ready to hail her with applause, whether she be called Cinderella, or the beggar maid that King Cophetua won, or the Queen of Sheba.’ (PC bk 1, 2377)  
Other Published Sources:Jopling 1925 list; RA Third Notice, Times,1 july 1874, p. 5.; RA Second Notice, Art Journal, Jul 1874, p. 199  
Unpublished Sources:Grattan NB PLJ; Grattan ts picture list; Agnew stock list