Jesse Dale Cast 1900– 1976
Surrey Docks c.1938
Oil on canvas 14 ½ × 20 ¾ inches (36.8 × 52.7 cm)
Purchased from the Artist's Estate by Anderson Consulting (now Accenture plc); Jason & Rhodes Gallery.
At its zenith, the group of Surrey Docks occupied 460 acres in Rotherhithe on the south bank of the Thames (the Surrey Side). The area is rich in maritime history, the Mayflower having set off from here in 1620, en route to the New World. The docks then became the location for Greenland whalers, Canadian food importers, and timber from the Baltic. Modern place names acknowledge these historical connections. After increasing post-war inactivity the docks finally closed in 1969. Apart from a few watery glimpses, now used for leisure and decoration, the docks disappeared from view, filled in during the 1980s onwards for housing and retail: a far cry from the days of the dockers. William Coldstream considered Cast an artist of unusual distinction; and critic Andrew Forge though his work as beautiful as anything from his generation. His output was small, and he destroyed a proportion of it. He was reticent about exhibiting, and after the war (in which his wife was killed, leaving him to raise their two-year-old son) he earned his living either teaching or on portrait commissions, neither of which advanced his career or reputation. He studied at Camberwell and the Slade; and from the mid-1920s until the war, exhibited regularly with various societies, and at the Royal Academy. A memorial show was held at South London Art Gallery, and another at University College London. His work is held in the Tate, National Maritime Museum & British Museum.