JOHN BYAM LISTON SHAW RI ARWS Also known as BYAM SHAW (1872-1919) Biography
PRE-RAPHAELITE (founded 1848) Biography

Time and Chance happeneth to all alike (England, 1901)

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Oil on canvas
Signed and dated Byam Shaw 1901 lower right


86.00cm high
61.00cm wide
(33.86 inches high)
(24.02 inches wide)
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Private collection to 2004


Rex Vicat Cole, The Art & Life of Byam Shaw, Seeley Service & Co, London & J B Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1932, pages 125 and 214

Exhibition History

London, Royal Institute of Painters in Oils, 1902
London, Dowdeswell Galleries, June 1902

Description / Expertise

Time and Chance Happeneth to All relates to the series of thirty paintings exhibited at the Dowdeswell Galleries in 1902 entitled ‘Sermons in Stones and Good in Everything’. The group was inspired by the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, a list of reflections on the nature of human vanity. Time and Chance Happeneth to All was chosen by Shaw as one of five works exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils later that year.

For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. (Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, lines 11-18)

A follower of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Shaw’s landscape is painted with a meticulous attention to detail whilst restating the Brotherhood’s belief of the importance of truth and sincerity in art. Rex Vicat Cole enthuses over this series of paintings within this second exhibition, admiring his true observation of life and appearance, backed by that unfailing asset – sincerity. Cole observes how Shaw’s use of colour in these is carefully chosen to reflect the sentiment of each subject. Within a more mysterious subject, harmonious and modulated tints prevail, whereas in others: a harsh colour scheme is attached to a deliberate statement of facts.

Born in Madras, Byam Shaw was the son of a British civil servant. The family returned to Britain when he was six. In 1890, he began his studies at the Royal Academy Schools and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy Summer exhibitions from 1893. He also exhibited at specially commissioned exhibitions for the dealer Dowdeswell and was an occasional exhibitor at other London and provincial exhibitions. He was also a dedicated art teacher, and in 1910 founded the independent London Art School, the Byam Shaw School, which still bears his name.