Anon: Cricket match on Turnham Green, Christchurch, 1850s
Very little is known about this cricket match painting, which is in the archive at Chiswick Library. We do not know who painted the picture, nor by whom it was commissioned or initially owned. It was donated to the library by a local resident who was down-sizing and hoped that the painting could go on public display.
In terms of putting a date on the painting, it was definitely produced after 1843, which was when Christchurch was built; but anything beyond that is somewhat speculative. The full crinolines might suggest the 1850s. *
The martial figures might suggest that it was painted during the period when Turnham Green was home to a militia barracks, situated on Heathfield Terrace near the current Post Office, between 1854 and 1878. But their presence might also be connected to the nature of the cricket match depicted, which appears to be taking place between a French team (their flag flying on the left-hand side of the picture) and a team flying the Red Ensign (in use until 1864 by both the Royal Navy and the merchant navy, and only by the latter thereafter) in the centre. There is speculation that it might be connected with a state visit made by Napoleon III in 1855, in which he and his retinue would likely have passed through Turnham Green on their way from London to Windsor.
But, ultimately, that is conjecture and we must also consider the possibility that the match depicted never took place: the artist could have been seeking to convey some sort of message/point relating to the complexities of the Anglo/French relationship at the time rather than simply recording a sporting event.
All of which is a longer way of saying that we have more questions than answers when it comes to this particular work, and that we can only say with any degree of certainty that it was painted sometime after 1843.
Assistant to Local Studies Librarian
Acknowledgement: Chiswick Public Library
* Suggested by Val Bott. The Turnham Green Devonshire Cricket Club played on Turnham Green by at least 1856; it acquired its name when the Duke of Devonshire agreed to become the President in 1853. In 1867 it amalgamated with another club to become Chiswick & Turnham Green Cricket Club. The Victoria County History of Middlesex, vol 7, p 69.