Friday, April 17, 2015

Ambrose McEvoy: Loosely-Painted Portraits

Ambrose McEvoy (1878-1927) was an English painter who usually painted loosely in a sort of Post-Impressionist manner. However, he could tighten things up when called to do formal portraits of military officers and politicians.

It seems that McEvoy was well-known and respected in his comparatively short day (he died aged 48). Many of his works are in museum collections, though not necessarily on view. A biographical note can be linked here.

Although he was capable of good draftsmanship, McEvoy often wound up doing convincing faces while dithering with his brush over the remainder of the canvas. He painted in watercolor as well as oil, but the images shown below are all oil paintings.


Bessborough Street, Pimlico - 1900
I've waked along Bessborough Street a number of times. But that was a hundred years or so after this was painted. I know that some newish buildings are nearby, but can't remember whether or not I saw those pictured here.

Cottages at Aldbourne - 1915
Besides cityscapes, McEvoy painted landscapes such as this, an interesting mix of solidity and Impressionism.

Gwen John - ca. 1900
Augustus John's older sister and an artist in her own right. McEvoy and Augustus were friends and presumably he was a friend of Gwen as well.

Winston Churchill - ca. 1911-15
Painted while Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty.

Harry George Hawker
The aircraft designer who was killed in a plane crash in 1921.

Seated Nude - ca. 1920
An informal work where McEvoy was playing around with colors.

Viscountess Cranborne
Only the face and, oddly, the left shoe are well-defined here.

Miss Jeanne Courtauld - ca. 1926
For some reason this painting is in the Courtauld collection. Her left shoulder needs to stand out a trifle better to make the neck area read correctly.

James Ramsay MacDonald - 1926
Future Labour Prime Minister.

Elizabeth Johnson - ca. 1920
I perhaps like this best of McEvoy's portrait paintings. Probably something to do with the treatment of the face and his use of color. But there's something wrong with the shape of the hair and its lack of shading on the face.

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