Home » Art Life » Sketches of Limehouse from the early 20th Century

Sketches of Limehouse from the early 20th Century


Limehouse Cut, 1933, Nathaniel Kornbluth

Local writer Alfred Gardner was kind enough to  give me access to two books that provide information on artists who worked in the East End in the 20th century up to the 1990s. The books Artists and the East End and A London Docklands Album were written and published by Peter Marcan.

They represent a survey of many of the artists who worked in the East End, sometimes the illustrations were used for books whilst others were anxious to record the local surroundings.

I have made a few selections from the book to illustrate the quality of the work and to give more information about some of the artists.


Junk Shop, Limehouse  Nathaniel Kornbluth

One of the artists was Nathaniel Kornbluth  who had a lifetime’s association with the the East End, not just as an artist but he also run a wholesale clothing business in Whitechapel.


Limehouse Cut : etching 1935, Nathaniel Kornbluth

He studied under well known artist Norman Janes at evening classes in Hackney and produced a number of etchings in the 30s and 40s. He exhibited at the Whitechapel gallery in the 1930s and 1949. In the 1970s he revisited some of his work and produced some new etchings.

His collections were highly rated and there are some of his works in the British Museum and the Guildhall.


Limehouse Waterfront , 1910 , Percy Noel Boxer

Percy Noel Boxer produced a series of etchings and drawings of Limehouse and Wapping , very little is known about the artist who produced work between 1910 and 1920. Athough it appears he studied at Blackheath Art school and Goldsmiths’ College  and lived in South London. he also drew a series of pictures of Greenwich.


Limehouse Cut , 1930 , Noel Spencer

Noel Spencer was born and raised in Lancashire and studied at the Royal College of Art during the 1920s.


Limehouse Cut, 1926, Noel Spencer

For nearly 20 years he was Head of Norwich School of Art, where his memory has been honoured with the annual Noel Spencer Award for Painting. He  produced a number of items of Wapping, Limehouse and Poplar in the 30s, 40s and 50s.


Limehouse Basin : etching 1940, Noel Spencer

The quality of the etchings and drawing illustrate that in the early part of the twentieth century there were a number of talented artists recording the changing face of the East End and especially places like Limehouse. Each picture gives a glimpse of a time sadly passed when the river and the canals were bristling with activity.

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