The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel, Spring 1915

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel: Spring, 1915

The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel, Spring 1915, 1961–2
Oil on canvas, 183 cm x 213.5 cm (click image to enlarge)

Before the First World War the restaurant of the Hôtel de la Tour Eiffel at 1 Percy Street, London W1, became a favourite haunt of Augustus John, Wyndham Lewis, Nancy Cunard and their literary friends. T. E. Hulme's Poet's Club, including the subsequent founders of Imagism, F. S. Flint and Ezra Pound, met there in 1910, and both Lewis and Roberts produced decorations for the restaurant. Roberts described it in his posthumously published memoir 'The "Twenties"', and he commented on evenings at the restaurant in his article 'Wyndham Lewis, the Vorticist' in The Listener on 21 March 1957: 'In my memory la cuisine Française and Vorticism are indissolubly linked.' But, as Richard Cork noted in the Hayward Gallery 1974 catalogue, this group portrait – showing (seated, from left to right) the Vorticists Cuthbert Hamilton, Ezra Pound, William Roberts, Wyndham Lewis, Frederick Etchells (holding the first issue of Blast) and Edward Wadsworth, with (standing) fellow Vorticists Jessica Dismoor (left) and Helen Saunders, the waiter (Joe) and the Tour Eiffel's proprietor, Rudolph Stulik – is 'an imaginative evocation rather than an historically accurate record' of the launching of Blast, which actually took place with a meal at the Dieudonné Restaurant in St James's in July 1914.
The Tour Eiffel went bust and its contents were eventually auctioned in January 1938. Stulik died later that year.
The picture was used on the cover of the Penguin anthology Imagist Poetry, ed. Peter Jones, in the 1970s.
PROVENANCE: Purchased from the artist by the Tate Gallery (T00528, Chantrey purchase, 1962)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Royal Academy 1962, Hayward Gallery 1974, Royal Academy (2) 1977, Sheffield 1989, Venice 1995, Newcastle 2004, Rovereto 2012, Manchester 2017

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