Gollon At Henley

In 2007, Chris Gollon was commissioned by the award-winning River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, to paint the Henley Royal Regatta. The commission was co-funded by Beefeater Gin and the American Friends of the River & Rowing Museum. Gollon was given a rare ‘Silver Pass’ for the Royal Regatta of the same year, allowing him access to all enclosures, the press box and the finishing line. Gollon took hundreds of photographs and from them made several painting studies and four editions of silk-screen prints. He finally took the decision to paint the anguish of the losing crew, since there are no silver or bronze medals awarded at Henley, therefore after months of training most crews’ experience is that of losing.

Around them there is in place everything for a joyous day: the pretty girls, the drinks, the colourful attire and the beautiful setting; yet all they can feel is the pain of defeat making their heads drop and their limbs leaden. Gollon painted a colourful diptych study, then two versions of the final work. The River & Rowing Museum chose to own the second version version, unveiled in 2008, which now hangs in the Museum’s permanent collection alongside Raoul Dufy’s Regatta at Henley and works by John Piper and Julian Trevelyan. Further studies are shown, and a detailed story of the commission told, in art historian Tamsin Pickeral’s book Chris Gollon: Humanity in Art (Hyde & Hughes, 2010).

“…tremendously vivid paintings by Chris Gollon that explore the idea of defeat on the water. All defeat is painful – that is what sport means. All glory is measured in the tears of the losers. But in rowing, complete exhaustion accompanies the fact that you are not, in fact, good enough; body and spirit are simultaneously and devastatingly shattered. The poor rowers, exposed in front of us, generally huge men in tiny, ill-fitting boats, can do nothing but show the world their pain.”
Simon Barnes, The Times


View larger image

Gollon At Henley (Second Version)

36” x 48” (91 x 122 cms) acrylic on canvas 2008. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


View larger image

Henley Regatta (I)

silk-screen print  21″ x 27.75″ (53 x 70cms) on 300g Arches paper, 2007. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


View larger image

Henley Regatta (II)

silk-screen print  21″ x 27.75″ (53 x 70cms) on 300g Arches paper, 2007. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


View larger image

Henley Regatta (III)

silk-screen print  21″ x 27.75″ (53 x 70cms) on 300g Arches paper, 2007. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


View larger image

Henley Regatta (IV)

silk-screen print  21″ x 27.75″ (53 x 70cms) on 300g Arches paper, 2007. River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames.


View larger image

Gollon At Henley (First Version)

36” x 48” (91 x 122 cms) acrylic on canvas 2008. Private collection.


View larger image

Sketched Diptych Study for Henley Royal Regatta

each panel 24” x 36” (61 x 91cms) acrylic on canvas 2008. Private collection.