June Antiques

PUBLISHED: 18:26 18 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:12 20 February 2013

A traditional river view believed to have been painted by John Rathbone (1750-1807) and valued at up to £3,000

A traditional river view believed to have been painted by John Rathbone (1750-1807) and valued at up to £3,000

William Lacey, pictures specialist at Halls, Shrewsbury, looks at two artists whose study of light shines through in their work

Illuminating art

William Lacey, pictures specialist at Halls, Shrewsbury, looks at two artists whose study of light shines through in their work

The study of the effects of light has been an inspiration for artists for centuries.

An artists ability to depict light can transform a flat, two-dimensional surface into a convincing illusion of reality. Light falling on an object makes it appear solid, shadows are cast, tones change, becoming warmer and cooler. Distance and depth can be described. An artist can practically sculpt with light to create a three dimensional effect.

One of the best and most popular 20th century exponents at depicting the effects of light is represented in Halls fine picture, silver and jewellery auction at the Welsh Bridge saleroom in Shrewsbury on June 30.
The French landscape artist Pierre De Clausade (1910-1978) was a master at capturing fleeting moments as light falls for an instant through the clouds.

De Clausade has deliberately left the landscape as free from distractions as possible. There are neither figures nor animals to draw the eye. All we see are groups of trees strategically positioned to create a sense of great distance. This effect is further enhanced as the pre-storm sunlight hits the fields in patches and a meandering river again taking the observer into the picture, making us aware of the distant horizon. The main subject of this picture is the billowing storm clouds which seem to glow and actually radiate light.

This painting is aptly titled Vers Autumne Towards Autumn and the rain clouds reflect this changeable season.

Pierre De Clausade was born in Paris and initially studied as an architect which possibly explains the meticulous attention he paid to the structure of his compositions. He soon decided to concentrate on his painting and began studying at The Beaux-Arts Academy in 1938. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1941 and was awarded a Silver Medal for his work. Clausade went on to exhibit throughout the world with American galleries showing particular interest.

At 81 x 100 cms, Vers Autumne is a large and fine example of a Clausade landscape. It is painted in oil on canvas and is in excellent condition. Entered for auction by a private Shropshire collector, the painting carries an estimate of between 2,000 and 3,000 and will, no doubt, attract considerable interest.

A more traditional river view (pictured top) will also be offered in the same auction. The large oil on canvas was originally thought to be by the father of British landscape Richard Wilson (1714-1782). Certainly the composition is typically Wilson-esque, with its Classical feel. Prior to Wilson, landscape painting in the British Isles was virtually non- existent. Occasionally a landowner might commission a view of his estate but no-one had considered that the natural scenery which surrounds us was a legitimate subject and worth recording. We see Snowdon bathed in a warm, almost Tuscan light. There is also the very formal composition designed, as with the Clausade, to lead the eye into the picture. The figure immediately draws our attention and sets the foreground.

The picture offered by Halls is perhaps a little heavy handed to actually be by Wilson. It lacks a little of his finesse. It is likely to be by a contemporary of his John Rathbone (1750-1807) who is nicknamed The Manchester Wilson. Rathbone was a native of Cheshire and worked in Leeds and York. He painted many fine views of the Lake District which were highly praised when exhibited at the Royal Academy.

This view of an unknown bridge, possibly a scene in the Lake District, carries a similar estimate to the Clausade, 2,000-3,000. This painting is part of a large selection of oils, watercolours and prints tin the auction.
William Lacey can be contacted at Halls, Shrewsbury, tel: 01743 284777.


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