James Torrington Bell at Lord’s

Another year, another roam down that obscure corridor in the Pavilion at Lord’s where they hide the more recondite 20th C cricket pictures (see last year’s entry on Adrian Allinson). Many of them appear to be amateur works showing grounds in former Imperial spots: sweet but ludicrously badly painted. A game of cricket presents quite complex spatial challenges to an amateur artist, however quaint and tempting the scene must look when they embark on these projects. Most of them fail the challenge.

So the Allinson stands out as the work of a professional and interesting artist, but so too does the delightful picture by a Scottish artist I had not heard of: James Torrington Bell. His dates were 1898-1970, but there is not much about him on the internet. There are a number of reproductions of lovely, mostly Scottish, subjects. He clearly knew how to paint and produced works that would grace any wall. The one now rather abjectly lurking in the corridor containing the physio room at Lord’s is of a subject which cannot often have been painted: a game in 1956 at the old ground in Perth, North Inch, between the Scottish counties of Perthshire v Forfarshire. This was something of a local Derby match and clearly attracted large crowds. It can be viewed on the MCC Collections website. The history of cricket on the ground appears to have come to a sad halt in 2009 due to vandalism.