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Alexander J. Heaney

1876 - 1936

The Public House by Alexander J. Heaney

The Public House   1913

  Original drypoint.
Signed in pencil.
Ref.: Stoddard, City Impressions, Bristol Etchers 1910-1935, no.22.
S 336 x 253 mm; P & I 304 x 227 mm
Excellent signed proof impression with rich drypoint burr, printed with considerable plate tone.

One of Alexander J. Heaney’s earliest drypoints, The Public House shows the Palace Hotel which stands as a flamboyant cornerpiece at the junction of West Street and Lawford Street in Old Market, Bristol. Sometimes known as The "Gin" Palace, it was built in 1869 for the wine and spirits merchant, John Sharp –you can still see his name and profession etched into the stone façade. At the time of its construction it was thought that a new Great Western Railway main station was going to be established nearby - for that reason it was to have been called the Railway Hotel, but Brunel's great Temple Meads Station was built half a mile south, so the Palace missed out. A smaller Midland Railway terminus, St Philip's Station, was opened nearby but this station attracted nowhere near the number of travellers that was expected; it was closed in 1953 and subsequently demolished.

In the year 2000, after many years of decline, The Palace came into the hands of Thomas Brooman CBE, co-founder and managing director of WOMAD (World of Music and Dance). He spent much time and money bringing the place up to the high standard for which it is worthy but after 5 years decided it was time to move on. The Palace finally closed its doors in mid-2005 and was sold. Various planning applications followed until its lease was bought by local publicans in November 2008. After a period of decoration in which maintenance of the pub's original features was a priority, it opened, once again, as a public house. It is still famed for the sloped floor of its bar which follows the incline of the road outside! This makes getting drinks very easy, you simply stand up and you practically fall to the bar.
Alexander Heaney’s drypoint shows a flag bearer leading a brass band through the streets outside the Palace; a policeman stands on duty amongst the onlookers. Heaney has enhanced the effect of early evening by his use of surface plate tone throughout the image, wiping highlights to create the effect of artificial light radiating from the interior of the Palace Hotel and its lantern.

Alexander Heaney exhibited an impression of this drypoint at the Bristol Savages Club in 1917. An impression is held in the collection of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, reference M3973.

On cream wove paper with margins. Mild mottled toning, otherwise generally good original condition.

Provenance: From the collection of Phyllis Heaney, the artist’s daughter – thence by descent to her granddaughter.