King George's River Pageant, 1919 signed 'W.L.Wyllie' (lower left) oil on canvas 28 x 86.5cm (11 x 34 1/16in).
EXHIBITED : R.A. 1921, no. 306 as 'King George's river pagent'.
ILLUSTRATED : Royal Academy Illustrated, 1921, p. 78.
After four gruelling years of conflict, the Armistice ending the Great War came into effect at 11.00am. on 11th November, 1918; the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year on 28th June and, to celebrate both the allied victory as well as the coming of peace, a number of public events were staged in London in July 1919. One of the most popular was a royal river procession, soon given the more formal title of 'King George's River Pageant', which comprised the ceremonial barges of the City's Livery Companies, whalers crammed with both Boy Scouts as well as Sea Scouts, watermen's wherries, naval pinnaces and a whole host of other craft. Watching from the terrace of the Palace of Westminster was the royal party including King George V, Queen Mary, the Dowager Queen Alexandra, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and many other dignitaries. Later on, the King and Queen boarded Queen Mary's Shallop, the historic barge built for William III's consort in 1689, and joined the waterborne cavalcade for part of its triumphal procession up-river through the centre of London. Although the famous shallop is not depicted in Wyllie's painting, the procession is shown here below London Bridge as it makes its way back downstream past the Monument and towards the Tower. There is no doubting the colour and excitement of the event and such was its popularity that it is hardly surprising that Wyllie chose to exhibit the work at the Royal Academy's summer exhibition in 1921.