Malcolm Osborne engraver

#MalcolmOsborne was born in 1880 at Frome, Somerset. At the age of 20, he moved to Streatham, London with his brother. From 1901 to 1906, he studied under artist and print maker Frank Short at the Royal College of Art.

Osborne produced intaglio landscape prints, urban scenes and portraits. He published his first etching in 1904. Over his career he created just over 100 etchings, drypoints, and aquatints. His works were published in limited editions of 50 to 150 copies.

I have two engravings by Osborne in my collection. A very fine image of St Martin in the Fields from 1906 published by The Art Journal, London, Virtue & Co.

St Martin in the Fields – etching by Malcolm Osborne @ 1906

The other a portrait of Charles Melville Gillespie, Professor of Philosophy at Leeds University. A fine example of his portrait work.

Charles Gillespie – etching by Malcolm Osborne @ 1927
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Edward Nevil

No one is quite sure who #EdwardNevil was. Little information regarding him can be found. The name may be an alias so as to avoid contractual obligations something a number of artists did. He was a prolific artist working around 1880 to 1900. He traveled extensively producing views of Buge, Antwerp, Rheims and many images of his favoured northern counties of England.

Horse and cart passing thru town – watercolour by Edward Nevil @ 1880/1900

A very competent artist producing genre scenes of the North of England. He painted a number of scenes around Whitby and Staithes. Using a wide colour palette along with smooth efficient brushwork his images are pleasing and inviting. Nevil was a painter in watercolours/gouache but did dabble in oils.

Shepherd with flock passing a farm cottage – watercolour by Edward Nevil @ 1880/1900

These two scenes may come from that area of the North of England which Nevil favoured. Two pieces displaying this artists talent and ability.

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Chinese watercolours

Over the time, which I have been collecting, I have found myself truly admiring the art which comes from the Far East. Chinese porcelain, sculpture, scrimshaw, drawings, and watercolours. The breadth of this facet of art is enormous. To be consider a specialist, one’s knowledge needs to be immense. This should not deter people from the appreciation of the art which comes from the Far East.

I come across works which I think are beautiful and capture the essence of this genre.

I find myself entranced by the brush work used by the artist. The opaqueness of the paint and the way it seeps into the paper. There is such simplicity in the work and yet it is pure artistry making the difficult seem simple.

Animals have meaning in Chinese society. They are based on the twelve animal signs of the zodiac. These are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep/goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig/boar. The rabbit symbolises mercy, elegance and beauty. The early Chinese believed a rabbit lived on the moon.

The light strokes of the brush leaves on the paper such wonder to look at. The above three works all bear their artists seals. I do not know their names but each has through their artistry has given us something beautiful to look upon.

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Basil Ede, an artist twice over

I came across an oil painting this past week which was suspicious until I read up on the artist. I recognised the artist’s name but the painting which I was looking at was something way out of the ordinary for him, I thought.

Many people may not know the name #BasilEde but they likely have looked at works of his and not known it. Basil Ede (1931-2016) was a British watercolour artist who specialised in avian portraits. His talent did not go unnoticed and by 1962, he had had several one man shows. In 1964, Ede was the first living artist to have a one man show sponsored by the #NationalAudobonSociety. From there he published ‘Birds of Town and Village’ with 36 plates from his own works. He was working on ‘The Wild Birds of America’ when tragedy struck in 1968. Ede suffered a massive stroke leaving him partially paralyzed. He lost the use of his right arm and his speech. He regained his speech but not the use of his painting arm. Ede started over. Teaching himself to paint with his left hand. He chose to also re-train in a different medium – oils. Within a year he was competent and within three years he was back to his very detailed ornithological paintings.

Hibiscus in vase – oil on canvas by Basil Ede @ 1990/91

The painting I came across is seen above. A still-life in oils on canvas. Signed (l.r.) but not dated – but I believe it comes from Ede’s recovery period around 1990/91 where he taught himself to paint left-handed. Ably painted but not yet to the intricate work he was known for. A nice work coming from a very determined artist.


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A glimpse at the Victorian Parlour

Art is able to show us many things. Past, present and future representations are common in art. People and events are also often the focus of art. But when we look at someone’s home are we voyeurs or historians or maybe a little of both.

Victorian living room (left side) – artist unknown @ 1860?

We see two watercolours today which display a #VictorianParlour. . Created by an unknown artist. Nice definition with very fine shading. They show the sitting room or parlour of, for me, a well to do person. Above is the left side of the fireplace. Art adorns the walls. Books lay piled. Mementos and sculptures stand around. Coordinated upholstery on the chair, arm chairs and the courting sofa reveal a person of taste and affluence.

Victorian living room (right side) – artist unknown @ 1860?

The right side of the room reveals more art, pottery, ceramics, dolls, books and more very fine furniture. The rotating armed book rack is quite unique and just seen at the edge is an upright piano with brass candle holders. A copper coal scuttle and scoop sit next the fire as too the tongs lay ready for use.

This is somewhere where I could sit and relax. I do not know who lived here. When I do an image search on Google what arises is an image of #AustenHouse in Seven Oaks by artist #CharlesEssenhighCorke. Most likely for the colour scheme than actually being from Austen House.

The piece of furniture that is worth a separate mention is the courting couch (bottom right of first image). Often seen as a two seater in an ‘S’ shape (tete-a-tete) meant for individuals to have private conversation with little physical contact. Also known as a gossip couch. The seat in the watercolour above is possibly a three seater. Courter, courted, and chaperone to oversee the liaison. They were the ‘de riguer’ piece of furniture for the modern Victorian household.

A glimpse into the past. Not too distant but revealing in many ways.

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Arthur Anderson Fraser artist

We visit with an artist who I would call a local. #ArthurAndersonFraser was born in Bedford, 1861 and died in Holywell, 1904. His family hailed originally from Scotland but moved to the East of England in the mid 19th century. Five of Arthur’s brothers became artists also.

The Fraser family of artists worked mostly in watercolour producing landscapes. Their atmospheric paintings of rural East Anglia capture the fens in moments of stillness and calm.

Arthur was mostly self taught and by 1880 was gaining recognition and popularity. He regularly exhibited his watercolours. Arthur produced peaceful country scenes, mainly displaying sites along the River Great Ouse between Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire We see the woods, fields, towpaths, etc. which he traveled or saw regularly.

The watercolour in my collection is from his early life when he signed his work as A. Anderson. It shows an arched stone bridge over a river in a forested area. It has some age spots and a tear but is typical of the quality pieces which Arthur created. It is signed, titled(location – near Enfield), and dated 1881.

Near Enfield – watercolour by Arthur Anderson Fraser @ 1881
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Sir John Hayter portraitist

Today, we look at a piece I picked up some 5 years ago from a small furniture shop which sold the odd vintage item. I bought this portrait because she was very nicely done. An image done with pencil, crayon, and watercolour. I had no idea who she was. Just that I liked the artistry. I now know who she is and possibly who the work is by. Research takes time and luck too for the amateur collector.

This brings me to who she is. Historically, she lived from 1532 to 1560. Her name was #AmyRobsart. She was the first wife of #RobertDudley. Later, Lord Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Lord Dudley was a favourite of Elizabeth I and might if things had been different become ‘king consort’ to Elizabeth I.

Robert was suspected of having his wife, Amy, killed. She was found dead at the bottom of a set of stairs. An inquest was held and found for accidental death but rumors still abounded. Interest in Amy was rekindled in the 19th century when Sir Walter Scott wrote about her in his Waverly novel ‘Kenilworth’.

#SirJohnHayter (1800-1891) established himself as a portrait artist. His father Charles was a miniaturist and his brother George was a portrait artist as well. He was a member of the Royal Academy and was well known by the 1820s. His portrait drawings were done in pencil, chalk, crayon and watercolour with many being turned into engravings.

Amy Robsart
Amy Robsart – pencil, crayon, watercolour by/after Sir John Hayter

Above is the fine artwork. I have seen a stipple engraving of the exact portrayal by WH Mote which lends credence to my thinking this may be the original from which it is taken. It is unsigned nor is it dated but I cannot see the verso of the piece. Even so, it is a fine piece, superbly coloured and executed.

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Sir Thomas Lawrence artist

Today, I would like to revisit a piece from quite a while back. At that time I suggested that the two children posed might be of royal blood. In revisiting this picture, I would like to suggest an alternative identification for the two sitters.

In my collection I have a mezzotint by engraver Herbert Stodart of the Calmady sisters. This a print of the original oil painting by #SirThomasLawrence.

The Calmady Sisters mezzotint by Herbert Stodart.

But this meezzotint is only here to introduce you to Thomas Lawrence and the Calmady sisters Emily and Laura Anne.

Thomas Lawrence (1769 – 1830) was a prodigy. Self-taught and a genius as an artist. Thomas was the main bread winner in his family by the age of 10. He established himself as a portraitist in pastels/chalk. His work usually appeared in oval format with a rough size of 12″ by 10″ (30cm X 25cm). He was supremely talented, charming and good looking. By 1787, Thomas moved his family to London where he exhibited regularly (every year from 1787 to 1830 except two at the Royal Academy Exhibition) . He mastered working in oils. He concentrated on portraits. He worked hard and produced many pieces for prominent personages across Europe but he for some unknown reason remained poor.

Lawrence considered the portrait of the #CalmadySisters to be his finest work and one of only a few with which he wanted to be remembered by. This is where the pastel drawing in my collection comes to the fore.

The Calmady Sisters by/after Sir Thomas Lawrence @ 1823

After having seen several other images

The Calmady Sisters drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence
The Calmady Sisters stipple engraving

It is known that Sir Thomas created a number of pastel/chalk drawings/studies prior to his final choice of pose for the sisters. After much scrutiny, I am fairly convinced that the two young ladies are indeed Emily and Laura Anne Calmady. There is no signature or date. The paper is old enough to come from 1823. A citation from D E Williams biography The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence. “Upon the mother’s expressing her delight at the chalk drawing, as soon as the two heads were sketched in, he replied “that he would devote that day to doing a little more to it, and would beg her acceptance of it, as he would begin another”.

I hope you enjoy not only my meanderings but also the absolute beauty of the pieces displayed.

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Lucas van Leyden, master artist

I bought a couple of engravings this past week. They are both biblical scenes and created by the same artist. If they are by the original artist and not later copies by another engraver they are a couple of the oldest pieces I have found. The original artist was #LucasvanLeyden (1494-1533). Van Leyden was a Dutch artist born in Leiden who was known not only for his painting skill but also his printmaking in which he excelled in both engraving and woodcut. It is not known when van Leyden learned to engrave but it is known that he was friends with Dürer and Gossaert both of whom were superb engravers.

Abraham and the three angels – engraving by Lucas van Leyden @ 1513

Van Leyden was well known and respected in his lifetime and some artists rated his engraving skills above even those of Dürer. He, to today, is considered one of the greatest printmakers of all time. Even so, he was still one of the best Dutch painters at that time. A number of his works survive in major galleries around the world.

Baptism of Christ – engraving by Lucas van Leyden @ 1510

Both engravings are on laid paper and show some toning of the paper but overall with no tears or stains, they are superb examples of van Leyden’s work.

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The Castle Inn or Five Bells, Chiddingstone, Kent

I recently was able to associate an oil painting in my collection to a location. The painting is unsigned and undated but bears an artist dealer stamp on the verso. It is stamped Winsor & Newton, 38 Rathbone Place, London W. Winsor & Newton were founded in 1832 and continue to trade to this day. They were colourmen selling artist paints and prepared canvases and panels. The panel I have is 11 1\2 ” x 8 1\4″ (293mm X 211mm). The image begins 1\4″ or 5mm in from each side.

The image of a gentleman on his horse which is being fed by a young lady in front of an inn. This inn, I have now placed as #TheCastleInn,Chiddingstone,Kent. The pub is now owned by The National Trust. The inn is first mentioned as early as 1420 although by a different name. This lovely village has appeared in numerous films including ‘Room with a View’ and ‘The Wind in the Willows:Mr Toads Wild Ride’. The town has cobbled pathways and buildings with half timbered sides with red tiled roofs and the town even boasts a castle.

The Castle Inn (Five Bells), Chiddingstone, Kent – oil on panel by unknown artist @ 1870/90

One can see in the painting the beauty of the buildings the cobbled pavements. The Castle Inn was once called the ‘#FiveBells’. The name change occurred around 1779.

The painting, I believe, comes from around 1880/90 but may be earlier and shows the architecture and makeup of the inn and it’s surrounding buildings. A superbly crafted piece and visually historically accurate.

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