Harold Speed

British, b.1872, d.1957

First Design For Fresco “Autumn” Painted On The Wall Of The Refreshment Room, Royal Academy

  • Presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932
  • Tempera on paper
  • 523 x 880mm
  • 69/553
  • c. 1896

Harold Speed was commissioned by the Royal Academy, London, to paint a fresco on the walls of its Refreshment room. Autumn is the preparatory sketch for that fresco. A symbolic, sumptuous interpretation of the season, it won an award of £40.00 from the Royal Academy Schools for the decoration of a public building. The glowing colours show the effect of Speed's recent visit to Italy where he was impressed by the natural soft hues of the country's light. Autumn was shown at the ‘New Zealand International Exhibition’, Christchurch, in 1906 and 1907. Born in London, the son of an architect, Speed abandoned his own studies in architecture for painting. In 1890 he was awarded a gold medal at the South Kensington School and in 1893 he won a gold medal at the Royal Academy Schools, as well as a travelling scholarship, which allowed him to travel to Paris, Rome, Vienna, Spain and Belgium. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.