279

Details & Cataloguing

British & Irish Art

|
London

William Leech, R.H.A.
1881-1968
BOATS

Provenance

The Dawson Gallery, Dublin;
Private collection

Catalogue Note

In 1949 May Botterell, who had been William John Leech’s lifelong partner since their meeting in 1919, spent time recuperating from her heart complaint at her husband’s home, Highcroft, Burnley in the New Forest, surrounded by her two sons, Jim and Guy and Jim’s wife Eileen and children Gillian and Bridget. Leech had accompanied May from their London flat and stayed at Christchurch nearby, painting the church and graveyard and the river with its flat bottomed boats.

He wrote to his New Zealand artist friend Sydney Lough Thompson, ‘I am not, however at 20, Abbey Road at the moment but at Christchurch, Hants, …. It is in sight of the Isle of Wight, on a land locked sea…’ Leech had no longer been able to spend his usual painting sojourns in France with the outbreak of war in 1939 and getting out of war bombed London, where his studio had been bombed several times, he welcomed the opportunity to paint his favourite subject matter, of boats in water. He wrote to inform Thompson that ‘There is quite a bit of sunshine here, it must be one of the sunniest places in England, and there are boats and water …”

Near Bournemouth, Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour in Dorset, with the rivers Avon and the Stour flowing into it. Shallow draught boats were able to negotiate up the River Avon or the Stour, passing Christchurch Quay and Tuckton Creek, past salt marshes and wet meadows. Leech painted these boats nestling along the river banks, in such works as High Tide on The Stour (Parknasilla Hotel, Kerry) and Tuckton Creek (Drogheda Borough Council).  In the stock of the Dawson Gallery in October 1950, Leo Smith, Leech’s gallery agent, recorded that eleven of the thirty odd works were painted in the Christchurch, Tuckton Creek area. One of these works was Tuckton Creek, Low Tide, the same size as the above work, which with the shape of the flat bottomed boats , the calmness of the water and the sparkle of light reflected from the surface of the water, suggests the present work belongs to this series.  Leech captures the scene with free brushstrokes, using colours reminiscent of his earlier canvases completed in France.

 We are grateful to Dr Denise Ferran for preparing this catalogue entry.

British & Irish Art

|
London