The Underwriting Room, Lloyds of London, 1972
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting

Bill Valentine

British ( XX - )

The Underwriting Room, Lloyds of London, 1972

  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed & dated 1972 lower right

Image size 19.5 inches x 29.5 inches ( 49.5cm x 75cm )
Frame size 22.4 inches x 32.5 inches ( 57cm x 82.5cm )


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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original painting by Bill Valentine dated 1972.
The painting is presented and supplied in its original frame (which is shown in these photographs). The painted surfaces, the canvas and the frame are all in their original untouched condition. No restoration, cleaning or conservation has been performed on the piece.
It is our policy to only supply artwork when in their original condition that are ready to hang and display.
The painting is signed and dated 1972 lower right.

This original oil painting depicts the Underwriting Room of Lloyds of London during the working day. The artist has signed and dated the work (1972) in the lower right corner. The Underwriting Room at Lloyds of London, where insurance underwriters worked, was one of the most iconic business environments in the world and at the heart of the business.
A typical working day in 1972 shows us the expansive open-planned room, with wide upper floor corridors being visible. There are tall, turquoise-coloured pillars providing both structure and style, set at regular intervals. Desks, known as ‘boxes’, are set out in neat rows, each piled with records and reference material. It is noticeable that the underwriters who work here are exclusively male, (and white) for at this time this was a very male dominated environment. They are dressed quite formally in smart suits, shirts and ties. Some men are sitting at their desks, among the phones, notes and pieces of assorted stationery that are laid out on every surface. Others are standing in the wide aisles, discussing the day’s business. There is an air of formal, civilised calm efficiency about this scene.

A painting of the same work environment today would look very different; this is a fascinating image of an iconic business environment before the presence of women, and of digital technology. There are no mobile phones, there are no computers, no screens. Although only fifty years ago, this now appears to be of another world.

Lloyds of London, generally known simply as Lloyds, in an insurance and reinsurance market located in London. It is a corporate body governed by the Lloyds Act 1871 and subsequent Acts of Parliament. It operates as a marketplace within which multiple financial backers, grouped in syndicates, come together to pool and spread risk. The underwriters, or ‘members’ are a collection of both corporations and private individuals, who are known as ‘names’.

The business has its roots in marine insurance and was founded by Edwin Lloyd at the coffee house on Tower Street in 1686. The company has survived various scandals and significant changes in the last century, but has at its heart a reputation for a strong financial chain of security which enables it to pay valid claims promptly.

At the start of the twentieth century Lloyds of London worked from a building at 12 Leadenhall Street, but expansion demanded a second building and so the building that came to be known as the 1958 building was commissioned. This was designed by Terence E. Henshame in a mannered post-war Classicism style. The 1958 Lloyds of London building occupied the Lime Street, Billiter Street and Fenchurch Avenue block and was occupied from 1958 to 2004. There were attempts to make it a listed building, but these failed, and it was demolished to make way for the Willis building that was erected between 2004 and 2008.

The Lutine Bell can be seen hanging from a balcony to the right of the scene. This has been an historical feature of the Underwriting Room. It was originally struck when the fate of a ship ‘overdue’ at its destination port became known. If the ship was safe, the bell would be rung twice; if it had sunk, the bell would be rung once. This had the practical purpose of immediately stopping the sale or purchase of “overdue” reinsurance on that vessel. Nowadays it is only rung for ceremonial purposes, such as the visit of a distinguished guest, or for the annual Remembrance Day service and anniversaries of major world events.

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