In the early 1920s Sir John and Lady Lavery rented a houseboat on the river Thames near Hampton Court. No reference is made as to when these summer forays began and ended, other than in Lavery's sketches. Although it would involve a meandering river journey by motor launch there may be a link between these sojourns and the painter's ambition to paint regattas at Maidenhead and Henley as well as other boating scenes during the London season.
The exclusive Remenham Club, founded in 1909, provided members of the London rowing fraternities with a base at Henley. Positioned near the start of the Henley course, it occupies one of the most popular stretches of river that, on competition weekends, as Lavery's sketch indicates, could be chaotic. There were frequent accounts of boating accidents involving spectators and competitors.
The present picture is one of two sketches for a possibly unrealised composition. Both show the riverbank cutting the foreground with cursory indications of figures and boats. Working with a full palette and loaded brush he establishes the mise-en-scene, rubbing in the background sky and trees, and noting the race marshal's look-out post in a vivid shorthand. No single section was more important than the impression of the whole, even if its elements were unresolved. This essentially is what we find in the present sketch.
We are very grateful to Professor Kenneth McConkey for preparing the catalogue entries for lots 132 and 133.