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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T H Victor artist

I thought today we might travel to two places. One which I have visited and the other not. Firstly, a trip to the south west of England to the small fishing village of Mousehole, Cornwall. Three miles from Penzance, this quaint fishing village with its fisherman’s cottages huddled around the harbour will capture your heart. The artist #ThomasHenryVictor (1894-1980) also known as #W.Sands lived in Mousehole. He studied art but turned down a scholarship to the Slade School in London. It is thought that he never went further from Mousehole than Truro. The watercolour from my collection shows the harbour with its fishing boats along with the Lobster Pot restaurant and adjoining buildings. It is typical of his work in that it displays a busy harbour and uses a lively colour palette.

Mousehole by Thomas Henry Victor @ 1950/60

Our second stop requires a jump to the French/Italian border. The small town of Menton is the border between Provence and Genoa. It has been part of Italy, part of Monaco, but is now part of France. Because of its climate it is a fashionable tourist destination and houses some magnificent mansions and gardens. It is also renowned for its citrus fruit – tangerines, oranges, and lemons.

Menton, the Bridge Saint Louis – watercolour by George Gurney @ 1911

The watercolour shows the #BridgeSaintLouis at Menton with the Alps as backdrop. Done in 1911 by #GeorgeGurney (little info found on him) using a wide colour palette, this work displays the beauty and ruggedness of the area. What a view as one hangs out the laundry.

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Frans Vervloet artist

This week I picked up a small watercolour by a Belgium painter. #FransVervloet (1795-1872) received his early training in Brussels along with his brother. His aptitude for painting was noticed and he received a scholarship to study in Rome. He remained for two years mainly producing architectural works of the churches and ruins in the city. Naples was his next abode . Here he remained for 30 years. He established the ‘Scuola di Posillipo’. This group was characterized by a clear palette, sketchy brushwork, and lucid organisation.

Vervloet loved to travel in search of places and scenes to inspire his painting. This took him as far afield as Istanbul. In 1854, Vervloet moved to Venice. Where he resided until his death.

The watercolour, I acquired is of Santa Maria Salute in Venice. It is signed and the location is noted on the lower right. It is undated. It is known that Vervloet visited Venice in 1834-35 and lived in Venice from 1854 to his death so might come from as early as 1834. A nice image with excellent perspective and motion from the boats and gondola.

Santa Maria Salute, Venice – watercolour by Frans Vervloet
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Gwalior Fortress, India

I was given a watercolour this past week by a friend. He and his wife are moving and down-sizing. This work was painted by a distant relative of his wife. The sketch/watercolour was done by #MrsGranvilleBrowne in 1872. Even though she was an amateur artist, the depiction is very well done. The #Gwalior fortress may have existed from the 6th century. It has played a strategic part in many conflicts and has been control over the years by a number different parties including the British.

Inscription on verso of Fortress Gwalior watercolour.

Although done by an amateur this piece is more important from an historical perspective. I have not come across too many works of art from this time period involving India.

Fortress Gwalior – title and date lower right

I have two watercolours by #WilliamSimpson from 1862 and this a fine addition to that pairing.

A nice use of soft and muted earth tones combine with good architectural definition reveal a lady of some artistic talent. Pictured is the #SurajKund. A tank of water located in the fort. It is believed to have magical healing powers which would cure chronic diseases. Many people came and come to this place for a miracle. A calm and peaceful place with wonderful views of sunrise and sunset.

Fortress Gwalior, India, 1872 by Mrs. Granville Browne
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Eugene Louis Gabriel Isabey artist

I acquired a small watercolour which leads us to today’s focus, #EugeneIsabey (1803-1886). Eugene Isabey was born into an artistic family. His father Jean-Baptiste enjoyed the patronage of the French Imperial Family and he himself became a court painter to King Louis-Philippe. His works favour historical paintings, genre scenes and landscapes and some very fine marine/seascapes.

‘Wäscher am Fluss’ study by/after Eugene Isabey @ 1830’s

The small watercolour is possibly a study done by Isabey for his finished work ‘Wäscher an Fluss’. The rendering of the structures tells me that they were done at the same time as the oil painting. Slight variations in the people illustrated as well as an additional boat by the bridge are seen. It has a pin hole in each of the corners, which might mean it was possibly painted in situ. A nice use of soft colours and shadowing gives a good foundation from which to work toward a finished oil painting. A nice work for a study.

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Robin Anderson artist

Lately, we have been celebrating women artists and women in all fields of work and life . Today, I would like to take you to Kenya to see one of the countries (if not the African continent) premier women artist who was at the forefront of African modern art.

#RobinAnderson (1924-2012) was born in Kenya but her early training was done in London at Heatherley’s Art School. She returned to #Kenya shortly after finishing her studies. And with two fellow artists and friends opened the #GalleryWatatu in the early 1960’s.

‘In the beginning, Masailand, Kenya’ – gouache by Robin Anderson @ 1948

Robin became famous in the early 60’s for her silk batik paintings and prints which she sold via the gallery. She developed her own technique which combined oils, watercolour, batik and screen printing in the creation of works. She had traveled across Africa with her father and used what she had experienced as the source of her inspiration in producing ‘elegant figures and wildlife scenes’.

Masai Boyhood – gouache by Robin Anderson @ 1948

I came across and acquired three pieces by Ms Anderson. They are not silk batik works but are done in gouache on paper (from her early period). Striking colours and impressionism leap from the page. An amazing eye for structure and balance draw the viewer into her work. There is a sense of power and awe, of the harshness of life and yet peace and wonder are contained here through the beauty which is displayed.

‘What is man? (Victoria Falls) – gouache by Robin Anderson @ 1949

These pieces call out to the viewer. ‘Stand and gaze upon me’. These pieces are the true celebration of the female artist, who was Robin Anderson.

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