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Painting The Star of the East

The Star of the East is a grade II listed building located at 805A Commercial Road in Limehouse, East London. It was opened in 1845 and closed in c2010, reopened in 2013 until 2016 and then reopened once again in 2019. The building is very different to other East End pubs which may be due to its prominent position on the Commercial Road at the junction with the East and West India Dock roads.

At the time I photographed this building it was shut and boarded up but it still looked beautiful to me - I knew I wanted to paint it as soon as I saw it. This stunningly ornate building is three stories high and is constructed out of red bricks with what looks like mosaic tiles on the upper part of the mid and top levels. The windows on the second and third floors are topped by tympana housing stone engravings of angular royal figureheads which gives the building a slightly gothic feel. I noticed that some of the panes of frosted glass had attractive star patterns etched into them which made me think this is exactly the sort of windows the Snow Queen would have in her palace!

The pub front has decorative columns and unusual panels beneath each window. The sign itself looks like the lettering has been chiseled into the solid pub front which looks like it could be made out of marble or stone. Outside the pub are two surviving ornate gas street lamps which would have been lit every evening by a man holding a long pole with a light on the end of it.

The building to the left of the pub is very attractive too, I particularly like the ornate carvings on the top level. The pub was run by the Baxter family for many years and in 1871 Henry William Baxter took over, he was a hairdresser next door so I assume the barber shop that is there today is the same one that he worked in. The Baxter family are listed as still running the pub in 1915.

The painting took me approx 40 hours to do and I loved every minute. The pub is now reopen and I would like to go back to see what the inside looks like and to toast my new painting!

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