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Details & Cataloguing

A Green and Pleasant Land: Two Centuries of British Landscape Painting

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Sir Herbert James Gunn, R.A.
1893-1964
ST. IVES

Provenance

Lyon & Tunrbull, Edinburgh, 28 November 2006, lot 106;
Ewan Mundy Fine Art, Glasgow, January 2007

Catalogue Note

This lovely painting depicts the harbour of St Ives with children idly resting on an old harbour rail. The unconventional perspective, tonal arrangement and fluid brushwork reveal Gunn’s modernist credentials, an artist who studied at the Académie Julian in Paris between 1911-12 (under Jean-Paul Laurens, like T. C. Gotch before him) and embraced attitudes to painting outside of the traditional schools.

Fashionable beach scenes and townscapes of Paris and London typified Gunn's early career, in which he commonly adopted a high horizon line and a pronounced foreground, as evident in St Ives. However, in 1926 his career took a change of direction when Gunn decided to devote himself to portraiture, establishing a highly successful and prolific career painting for the Establishment, such as H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Yet in execution, these portraits maintain the avant-garde background that informed his early career.

From 1926 Gunn began to sign his pictures ‘H. James Gunn’ (rather than ‘H. J. Gunn’) which dates the present work to this period. It is therefore a rare break from his portraiture, and reveals the continual appeal of the landscape to him. It is these landscapes, executed with such style and delicacy, that now form some of the most desirable works of his oeuvre.  

A Green and Pleasant Land: Two Centuries of British Landscape Painting

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London