2018-05-30-2019-01-23 --- 2019-01-23 01:18:06--18
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LOT :31
Walter Frederick Osborne RHA ROI (1859-1903)
Beached Rowing Boat and Figures by the Shore
Oil on board, 25 x 21cm (9¾ x 8¼'')
Estimate EUR : €8,000.00 - €12,000.00
Auction Date : 30-05-2018


Walter Frederick Osborne RHA ROI (1859-1903)
Beached Rowing Boat and Figures by the Shore
Oil on board, 25 x 21cm (9¾ x 8¼'')

Provenance: Sale, Adam's, 16 June 1993, Lot 69, where purchased by the late Gillian Bowler.

Walter Osbornes picture depicts a sloping, high river bank upon which small rowing boats are moored. Just over the brow is a large pavilion-like building with steep roof, tall chimneys and masts. On the left, a figure in hat and white smock stands silhouetted against the sky, while in the right foreground another man in white sits in his boat, moored below the steps which climb the banks. The smooth water below reflects the boat and river bank, complementing the dark shape of the building above. Osbornes scene is viewed against the light, so the tone of the picture is subdued. Yet a quiet sense of mystery is evoked, the two men conversing with one another perhaps, or lost in their own thoughts. Osbornes scene has echoes of small, intimate pictures of heath or quarries by earlier landscapists such as John Crome and William Mulready.

Osborne spent much of the period 1884 to c.1891 painting in English villages and coastal towns in the summer months. The setting of the present picture is probably at Rye in East Sussex.

Rye had been an old fortified town on the river Rother on the Sussex coast and became one of the Cinque ports. But in the 16th century the harbour began to silt up, so that the town became situated two miles inland. The Flemish portraitist Anthony Van Dyck painted beautiful watercolours there c.1633. Osborne was working in Rye c.1889-1890, and was inspired to paint some of his finest paintings there. These include Cherry Ripe, c.1889 (Ulster Museum); The Ferry; When the Boats Come In; small oil studies such as On the Quay at Rye, 1889 and the present picture; and the wash painting Boats in Rye Harbour (National Gallery of Ireland); and he also took photographs there (NGI).

English villages provided Osborne with interesting subject matter and also inspired a new palette in his paintings, the warm russets, oranges and maroon colours of brickwork and roof tiles, the browns of old woodwork, often being lit up by lovely sunlight. In the present scene, which is observed against the light, the tones, dark maroons, plum colours, raw siennas (lighter at the top of the bank) and dark blues, are more subdued. But the sky is bright, covered by light cloud and with touches of blue sky breaking through. Osbornes brushwork is light but expressive. On the riverbank, for example, changes in direction are visible as his brush moves quickly over the picture surface, while in the clouds fluid, horizontal brush marks can be seen, creating blurred edges where the building meets the sky.

Osbornes painting belonged in the collection of Gillian Bowler, founder of Budget Travel.

A very similar subject was exhibited at the Dublin Art Club in 1890.

Julian Campbell, April 2018

1) The Ferry, Important Irish Art, de Veres, Dublin, 27th November 2013, Lot 39.
2) When the Boats Come In, 19th Century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art, Bonhams, London, 1st March 2017, Lot 62.
3) On the Quay at Rye, 1889, Irish Sale, Sothebys, London, 18th May 2001, Lot 165 this was a gift from Osborne to fellow painter Blandford Fletcher.



Hammer Price : €23,000.00
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