Today, we travel eastward from my home into the shire of Norfolk and experience the unique landscape through an etching by #AlfredRBlundell.
Breckland Pines – etching by Alfred R Blundell
Alfred Blundell (1883-1968) was an all-round artist – dabbling in painting, etching, sculpting, and printmaking. He is known across Europe for his architectural subjects. Blundell was born in Bury St Edmunds and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. A fine etcher he was an artist who was active in the great renaissance of original print-making that took place in Britain in the early 20th century.
Mildenhall by Cavendish Morton
If we travel a few miles south we find the market town of Mildenhall. The center of town is the market Square with its’ 16th century hexagonal market cross. The market is held every Friday and holds it’s charter from the 15th century. Mildenhall boasts it’s own radio station and was mentioned in a song (Let There Be Light) by ‘Pink Floyd’. This watercolour was painted by #CavendishMorton and shows the market square with its market cross. Yes. It really is that low to the ground. Morton was a painter, illustrator, teacher and print maker. He was a masterful portrayer of light and colour and loved sunshine and shadow in his works whether marine, beach or landscapes. Wonderful use of colour by to give depth and movement to this view over seen by St Mary’s Church tower.
I often find myself adding things to my collection not for any monetary reasons but for glimpses into the past. Today, we look at two watercolours for such a reason.
We will begin with a landscape which displays a copse of trees standing alongside a wooden fence with some hills in the background. It is a nice image but not truly anything spectacular. It has interest not for its image but more for the watermark. This paper was made by #SaintMontgolfier. The family Montgolfier (two brothers) began making paper in the 18th century. The brothers are more famous for inventing the hot-air balloon. Over time the company merged to become Canson and Montgolfier – one of the greatest paper-makers in history. Used by artists and all who love supreme quality papers. The company continues to make paper and adapts itself to modern day requirements.
The second image is a watercolour of a church in the nearby city of Cambridge. St Peter’s is also known as St Peter by the Castle or St Peter beyond the Bridge. It was originally built in the 12th century. It is a single cell structure with octagonal spire. The present church was rebuilt on a slightly smaller scale in 1781. It retains a 12th century font as well as a 13th century doorway. The watercolour shown here is certainly early 19th century. Tidily tucked away in a quiet corner of Cambridge, St Peter’s is worth a visit.
When we moved to England, my daughter was 9 years old. I was amazed that children were taught to write using fountain pens. Fountain pens are not a regular site in early educational institutions in North America. Since moving here, I have become a fan of the fountain pen and love to use them and over the years I have collected a few. I don’t use all the pens I have collected, just a few. My daily pens tend to be Parkers and Sheaffers.
The first set is a Swan pen and pencil set in mosaic golden marble from around the 1930’s in their original box. There is just something beautiful about the design and appearance of a beautiful pen.
To real aficionados these pens are ‘writing instruments’ not just fountain pens. They, in and of themselves, are works of art. Each an individual creation when it comes to their appearance depending on what model, of course.
The next pen is made by Onoto de la rue. This pen again comes from the 1930’s. A very lovely pink/red pearl body with gold trim and gold nib. As I said, my usual pens are Parkers and Sheaffers, so to finish a number of Parkers from my collection. To begin – two Centennial Duofolds – one blue marble and the other black both with gold trim. The next is a pen and pencil ‘Premier’ set in lacque black @ 1983 (note the grip) followed by a Parker ‘Victory’ with red pearl body (@1940). And we finish with two Parker ‘Vacumatics’ (@1940), one in emerald green and the other in golden pearl. I am not a pen expert and certainly do not have any truly rare pens but the few I have are good models of their makers expertise. Truly not just pens but writing instruments.
A look at a local artist, today. #JeanDrydenAlexander (1911 – 1994) was born at Priest Cottage, Shenfield, Essex. Her father (RGD Alexander) and mother (Effie Alexander) were well known watercolours. Through her parents circle of artist friends she met people such as HB Brabazon and Sir George Clausen. She and her family spent much of their time painting ‘en plein air’ across Essex and its’ coastline.
Jean was not only a painter but also a teacher. Teaching for 30 years at Brentwood County High School. During her lifetime, she travelled extensively and resided for 4 years in New Zealand. In 1974, she moved back to England and settled in Norfolk where she lived until her death.
The sketch appearing on the verso appears to be a study for the watercolour which appears on the recto. A very pleasant image to look at. Just enough definition is used and leaves an image which draws you into it to see closer.
It is not often I come across pieces which are extremely old but this past week I did. They are a set of six small maps of Scotland with their written description on the back. Nowadays they are known as ‘miniature speeds’. This set of six is done by artist #PietervandenKeere. The name which appears on the maps is ‘Petrus Kerius’.
Van den Keere (1571-1646) was a Flemish engraver, publisher and globe maker. He spent the best part of his working life in England.
Van den Keere produced 44 #miniaturemap plates of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland around 1599. Drawn from already existing maps van den Keere miniaturised them. The coinciding text was taken from the full size atlas produced by #JohnSpeed. The mini version appeared in 1617 with adjacent Latin text. The English version was published in 1627.
I will not include images of the versos which display the text but do mote the date on map #56. It really does read 1599. The maps were pressed from the original plates created in 1599 but these were published in 1627 since they have English on the back.
A nice set, well mounted and framed (glass two sides) to show recto and verso of page.
To most people , the artist #RoyCalne is an unknown entity. They might know him better as a surgeon working in nearby Cambridge. Roy Calne was Professor of Surgery at Cambridge University. His pioneering work was in the use of immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection after transplant and grafting surgeries. He performed the first liver, lung, and heart transplant in 1987. Many, many awards have come his way as well as a knighthood.
Calne has become a successful painter. His works often depict the clinical procedures which his patients go through.
Canes’ artistic works have become popular around the world as he broadens the knowledge/support for organ transplant. He is a member of the art group ‘Group 90′ in Singapore. This Eastern influence can certainly be seen in todays’ artwork. A use of bright vibrant colours and bold brush strokes lead to a captivating image.
I do not come across modern artworks which originate in the Middle East very often. I have two works by #SumbatKiureghian (Iranian artist) and this piece which we will look at today (I think Lebanese or Syrian).
It is a portrait of a young girl/lady sitting in the back garden of her home. It is finely painted in muted and pastel colours, evoking a sense of quiet calm and rest. It displays many middle Eastern regular home items. The wonderful throws and rugs/carpets, the tiled yard, the pottery – all these portray a family not poor. Here this young lady has found a space for contemplation. What great question does she think on?
The piece is signed and dated but I do do not have the ability to read the signature. As you can see it was painted some 25 years ago.
There is one other identifying feature and this is found on the verso. A name appears. #HKhayat is written in pencil. Whether this is the english translation of the signature or possibly another interested party, I do not know. Googling H. Khayat brings up a young lady who works for Christie’s Auction House as their specialist in Middle Eastern Modern Art.
A pleasant piece to look at. It calms and makes you pause as with the young lady and just take a moment for some small peace.
I came across a rough watercolour the other day and although only a sketch it had something about it. An efficient artist, one who was use to working quickly and in sittu. The small watercolour had a monogram on it and was titled on the verso. The monogram led me to an artist by name #EdmundMorisonWimperis (EMW).
Edmund was born in Chester in 1835 (d. 1900). At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to a wood engraver (Mason Jackson) and also trained under watercolourist #MylesBirketFoster. His studies led him to work for the #LondonIllustratedNews. Later in his artistic life he worked along side Thomas Collier.
He was a member of the Society of British Artists and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours where he became a prominent member late in the 19th century.
Many of his works display Cornwall and the West Country but he could often be seen along the River Ouse in Huntingdonshire. He loved to work ‘en plein air’ and was adept at portraying vast skies, and the fickle shadows flitting across the ground.
The sketch in my collection was painted on site. It is titled At Porlock Weir. I think you can see the the influence of Birket Foster. It has good perspective and nice use of earthy tones and is overall a pleasant piece to look at. To
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I think is special. Today , we look at a book published in 1739. Although the book is not in great shape. It is intact. It contains the an account of 102 painters lives and an added historical/chronological list of prominent painters for over 500 years. Although the histories and lives are interesting, it is the 102 engraved images of the artist’s that I find beautiful. Published in 1739, this book uses the original etched plates etched plates. Most of these were engraved around 1630, some even earlier.I display only a few of the portraits of some of the better known artists which you might recognise. Wonderfully engraved by some very famous artists too. I don’t think I need to say much about the quality of the works. They are consistently fine and being 281 years old have stood the test of time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I.
I thought this week we would go for a ramble through the countryside using some pieces from my collection. Often, when I travel I like to take the road less traveled and by doing so I experience the ‘real/authentic life’ of an area. In an earlier time, taking the back roads, one came across scenes like the this. Here, children amuse themselves as the farmer and his wife deal with the harsh realities of farming in such a rugged land. The beauty of such landscapes is little compensation if one cannot feed ones family. But here, I think we see a successful attempt at family and farm. Earlier times saw children sent outside to care for each other and often only came in for meals or when called. A hearty imagination and creativity were a requirement to avoid boredom. Life was not easy. It was often a struggle – against the land, the weather and things beyond ones control but struggle on they did. Nowadays, we look on scenes like these and see an idyllic life but I think the reality was very different. Here on the back roads there is beauty to be found but often that is just the glossy cover to a deep and epic struggle to survive. A fight to provide more for your children. A better life. One in which they might have more time to revel in the beauty that surrounds them. Even today, we strive to provide our children with a better life – with more than we had when growing up. That is not a bad thing but just maybe we also need to stop, take a deep breath, and look around us to see the beauty in the place where we are. When I was younger, I was told that being around young children would keep me young. I am a grandfather and I can tell you that that is not true. I know I am getting older – my body reminds me often enough – but the thing that my granddaughter gives to me is not stamina or youth but she has reignited in me the joy, the wonder and awe in almost anything and everything which she sees so easily and I over time had become oblivious to. There is joy and beauty to be found even in the struggles of life.