Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Picture of the Week No. 15 - R.P. Bonington

Finding a different picture each week from the collection is a great reminder of some of the fascinating gems in the collection, all those hidden away pictures that are not so well known but all the fresher and more interesting for it. I'm hoping to get the time amidst the packing and exhibiton work here at the gallery to look in focus on certain areas of the collection such the Pre-Raphaelites and the Neo-Romantics, and also bring you some highlights from the Decorative Arts collection. I 've updated the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery page, link below the top banner on this page, with fresh content from a recent talk on the history of the colleciton, so have a peak there too. In the meantime, here's a beautiful study by tragically short-lived Richard Parkes Bonnington. KP

Pile Drivers, Rouen, 1821/2
(click on image for larger version)
black lead on grey wove paper, 35.8 ´ 26.4 cm
inscribed: R.P.B.

Bonington spent much of his short life in France as his family moved in 1817-8 to Calais, where the boy studied with FRANCIA and later in Paris with Baron Gros (1771-1835). There he also became friends with Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), who influenced his costume pictures. Delacroix wrote in 1856 that Bonington had ‘ a sense of mastery, sureness of touch going hand in hand with clear ideas’. Bonington’s brilliant watercolours attracted a host of admirers and imitators in both France and England.

Pile Drivers was sketched at Rouen in 1821, a preliminary study for the slightly later and considerably larger watercolour in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, commissioned by a ‘Miss C.’ for two hundred francs. There is also a watercolour version of the same size in the British Museum.

A critic in the New Monthly Magazine (1 August 1829), reviewing Bonington’s studio sale, praised the rough sketches of pile-driving etc. where ‘it appears as though he had arrested the figures in their progress and transferred then to his paper, there is so much life and reality about them’.

PROVENANCE: Sutton Palmer; Dr John Percy (Lugt 1504); Dr John Percy; Christie’s 22 April 1890, lot 102 as Harbour Scene; Kidson; O’Byrne; Christie’s 3 April 1962, lot 50, purchased by Gallery.
EXHIBITIONS: Watercolours and Drawings from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Bedford, London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, no.23; R. P. Bonington, Nottingham, Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 1965, no.48; Bonington, Cherbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1966, no.20; Richard Parkes Bonington ‘On the Pleasure of Painting’, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, Paris, Petit Palais, 1992, no.11.
REFERENCES: M. Cormack, Bonington, 1989, p.34, pl.19, P. Noon, Richard Parkes Bonington ‘On the Pleasure of Painting’, 1991, p.95.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! Love seeing a creative mind work and gain success!!!!!! Hope it continues to grow!