Monday, June 13, 2011

Stanhope Forbes at Low Tide

A painter whose work I'd like to see more of in person is Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) who was the anchor of an artists' colony not far from Land's End. I visited England last summer and tried to come up with a plan to include Cornwall in the itinerary. But with only six days to work with between my wife's Wimbledon experience and a jaunt to Paris, I couldn't pull it off. She wanted to see Stratford, Bath, Stonehenge and Brighton and I had set up a get-together with frequent commenter "dearieme" at the fringe of the lower Midlands. Maybe next time.

Forbes' brief Wikipedia entry is here and a bit more biographical information can be found here, here and here.

This BBC item says that the painting shown above, his "Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach" (1885), is one of the most important works in the Plymouth Museum. And it is a fine piece of work. I know this because I've seen it even though the closest I ever got to central Plymouth was the freeway interchange to the road coming down from Dartmoor. By some miracle it was in San Francisco a few years ago where I chanced upon it and was mightily impressed.

One thing that impressed me that a casual view might miss was Forbes' treatment of small, background figures. He defined faces, clothing and other "details" with a few well-chosen brush strokes using carefully selected colors. I wished I could be even half that good.

The original painting is fairly large, as is the image above if you click on it to enlarge. Even so, the image is much too small to view what I just mentioned. The only solution is to buy a large, good reproduction if you can't make it farther west than Oxford or Bath on your next trip to England.

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