A Vision of The Clique. 1894, by Frederick Walker, engraving by Walker & Boutall after the original 1865 drawing. From Henry Stacey Marks, Pen and Pencil Sketches, Vol. I., 90.

Frederick Walker first met the members of The Clique at the opening of the Royal Academy exhibition on May 4, 1863. Although Walker became an honorary member of The Clique, this was based more on friendship than on a shared artistic vision. According to J. G. Marks, the brother of Henry Stacy Marks, this drawing of the group was executed in late March 1865 during a visit to Torquay where Walker was painting his watercolour Moss Bank. Marks has described Walker's relationship with The Clique:

No allusion has as yet been made to Walker's connection with the little band of St. John's Wood artists, known as "The Clique"; but as some of its members were among his most intimate friends, and he himself was elected an honorary member about this time, some mention of the subject may here be made. The original members were: P. H. Calderon, G. D. Leslie, J. E. Hodgson, W. F. Yeames, G. D. Storey, D. W. Wynfield, and my brother – it has been seen that Walker speaks of having met five of the number on the opening day at the Royal Academy - and honest and searching criticism of one another's work was the main object of the brotherhood. The badge was a gridiron, with the motto, "Ever on thee"; a die of this badge was made for the members' notepaper, and a small brass gridiron was worn suspended from the button-hole on certain ceremonial occasions. There were meetings on Sunday mornings at the studio of one or other of the members, outings in the country after the pictures had been sent to the Royal Academy, and in all their sayings and doings there existed a thorough bond of cordial goodfellowship. During this and the next few years, Walker saw a great deal of the Clique, both collectively and individually; and though, as time went on and his circle of friends widened, the intimacy somewhat declined, there was no loss of friendliness on either side. [41]

Henry Stacey Marks has also described the genesis of this caricature of The Clique which differs slightly from his brother's account:

The most elaborate pen-and-ink Walker drawing I have is that which shows him wandering alone on the cliffs at Torquay, where he suddenly sees as in the vision his friends of the St John's Wood Clique, which is here reproduced as a plate. The original bears the date "Torquay Asylum, 1865." It became mine in this wise. The members of the Clique at one time had sketching meetings at each other's houses. One evening all of us were at Walker's; in the course of it he produced the drawing… To describe the design - the principal figure is extremely like F. W. in face and build. Prominent in the ghostly group are Calderon and myself, arm in arm. We were accustomed to give Calderon the nickname of "the fiend," circumstance hinted at by the budding horns on the forehead. I, "the all-licensed jester," carry a fool's bauble in one hand, the single eyeglass which I wore for many years in the other. Behind these is a very elongated and attenuated George Leslie, bearing at diminutive George Storey, who is comparatively short of stature. These are habited in theatrical shepherds' costumes which they once wore at a fancy-dress ball. Hodgson, perhaps the least successful figure out the composition, in an Elizabethan dress, reclines beyond. In front we see D. W. Wynfield with a genealogical tree, for he was great on family histories, and an authority on heraldry and armorial bearings, accompanied by Yeames gleefully displaying a wedding ring, an allusion to his marriage, which took place that year. Two of the figures bear the gridiron badge on their breasts. The serpent and the file refer to a sermon which I preached for many years and in many places from the well-known text, "They shall gnaw a file and flee into the mountains of Hepsidam." [89-91]

Links to Related Material


Marks, Henry Stacey. Pen and Pencil Sketches, Vol. I. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1894.

Marks, John George. Life and Letters of Frederick Walker, A.R.A. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1896.

Created 10 July 2023