Mackay, Arthur Stewart: ‘The Elephant’


An atmospheric oil on board looking through a wire fence at the ‘Elephant and Castle’ (‘The Elephant’) in South London and recording the impact of bomb damage and the beginning of reconstruction. The pillared building to the left is almost certainly the famous Baptist church, the ‘Metropolitan Tabernacle’, the only building in the painting which remains standing today.

On that basis, the view is looking north along Newington Butts – now a wide road with multiple carriageways – with the entrance to ‘Elephant and Castle’ tube station to the right. This whole area was heavily bombed during the Second World War, and as such, this painting provides an important historical record of its impact and after.

The painting has a strong feeling of the ‘Euston Road School’ style of British realism associated with such artists as Graham Bell, Vanessa Bell, William Coldstream, Duncan Grant, Victor Pasmore and Rodrigo Moynihan.

‘The Elephant’ has been recently cleaned but remains unframed, a paper label to the reverse records the title and artist and that it was exhibited at an exhibition held by The Royal Institute of Oil Painters in galleries at 191 Piccadilly, London in 1959.



Artist: Arthur Stewart Mackay (1909-1998)

Title and date: ‘The Elephant’, 1951

Size: 44.0 x 59.0 cms.


A painter, graphic and poster artist and a teacher, Arthur Stewart Mackay was born and lived in London and studied at Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art and Hornsey School of Arts and Crafts where he was a bronze medallist. He lectured at Hammersmith College of Art and Building and showed at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Society of Arts, the Paris Salon, and at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters where he became a member in 1949. The Imperial War Museum holds two of his paintings depicting the Second World War at home.