With Maxwell Galleries, San Francisco, CA (label verso, upper right corner);
Private collection, Europe.
Engraved for Collier’s Weekly, vol. 24, no. 4, publ. P. F. Collier and Son, New York, 28 October 1899.
The present work is an elegant example of Albert Beck Wenzell’s genre scenes, which successfully capture the feel of day-to-day life during the Belle Époque. The central group of figures are shown seated in Hyde Park, London, looking out onto a road that is populated by horse-drawn carriages just visible in the upper right corner. The sophisticated clothing donned by the men and women alike speaks to their social standing; indeed, the lady sat furthest to the right wearing a long black gown has been compared to Queen Victoria on the basis of physiological similarities.
Wenzell’s exclusive use of shades of black and white paint to build up the composition, interspersed only by glimpses of the bare paper support beneath, was quite typical within his oeuvre. Works with comparable colouring include "Why were you so cross to your husband at breakfast?...", in the Delaware Museum of Art, and Matchmaking, from the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which was executed in 1899, the same year as the present painting. Though Wenzell likely opted for this colour palette so frequently on account of his occupation as an illustrator (who liked to imagine his sketches in print), the monochrome tones nonetheless heighten the romanticism of each scene.