The Town House


late eighteenth century

carved and painted wood panel

72cm x 41.5cm

This panel, featuring a five-bay Georgian townhouse, was recently bought by Compton Verney from art dealers in New York, but at some point this piece had been owned by Andras Kalman, who originally put together Compton Verney’s British Folk Art collection. Andras’ daughter Sally Kalman remembers it being in their London home after much of his Folk Art had been bought for Compton Verney.

The latticed fence and front gate, lined with stylised trees, creates a distance between itself and the viewer, as well creating a sense of space between the house and the front gate. This, alongside the use of three-dimensional (and functioning) miniatures of a door knocker and door knob on the front door, and the handle on the gate, gives a sense of realism that can often be hard to achieve in Folk Art representations. This panel bridges the gap between the Folk objects and paintings, being both a carved wooden object and a painted panel, and not just decorative but also operable.


It is possible that the painter L S Lowry, Kalman’s long-term friend and client, took inspiration from this piece. You can see the uncanny likeness between the building in this carved panel and Lowry’s own industrial architecture: large looming facades pierced with countless windows staring out at the viewer.