This large-scale painting (50″ x 53″) shows the Grantchester Group enjoying tea at the Old Orchard in (probably) 1910, then Rupert Brooke’s home just outside Cambridge. This work was made after a family visit to the Orchard in the early 1990s. It’s a beautiful place to be in Spring, with blossom bursting from every tree, as you can see in the top half of the painting. Michael bought a b/w postcard of the scene, which includes Rupert Brooke, Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf, and this, together with photos taken on the day, was the primary inspiration for the painting. He was not, however, interested in copying the postcard, but that its captured action could be reinterpreted in colour on a large scale. The black side panels are typical of this later period as he was exploring boundaries of the image and of the canvas itself. Seeing this painting in the flesh (as it were) is breathtaking; it’s hard to turn your head away as it insists that the viewer takes time to look at it and discover the layers within the paint.
Find out more about the Grantchester Group here: http://www.orchard-grantchester.com/grantchester-group/.