In ‘Happy Hampstead’ we see all the fun of the fair: a merry-go-round, a shooting gallery, and joyful dancing. Festivities like these took place at London’s Hampstead Heath from the mid-1800s. By 1890 the fair became known as ‘Appy Ampstead’, and within two decades the festivities of Hampstead became the subject of modern British artists. David Burton’s ‘Happy Hampstead’ is part of this tradition.
Burton was an untrained pavement artist chalking the Bath Stone that lined the streets of Hampstead in the 1930s and 1940s with joyfully modern images. By 1938 Lucy Carrington Wertheim, a London Art Dealer with an eye for naïve art, persuaded Burton to produce works on paper for exhibition in her gallery. Burton was living in poverty.
Lucy Carrington Wertheim had an eye for unconventional modern works which were – like Burton’s - often naïve or playful in their approach to their subject. Wertheim was also influential on New Zealand art; she was an early supporter of New Zealand expatriate artist Frances Hodgkins, and later gifted 138 modern British works to Auckland Art Gallery in 1948 and 1950. In 1965, Wertham gifted ‘Happy Hampstead’ to Hamilton City Council.
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