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Walter Osborne RHA (1859-1903) A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard Oil on canvas, 52 x 73cm (20¼ x 28¾'') Provenance: H.D. Brown, (by 1883), his sale. Edmund Lupton, his sale, (c. 1942). James J. Davey. Sold in these rooms, Important Irish Art Sale, 5th December 2006, lot 93, where purchased by the current owner Exhibition: Dublin, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1884, no. 99. Liverpool, Autumn Literature: T. Bodkin, Four Irish Landscape Painters, 1920 (Irish Academic Press ed. 1987), pp. 188, 131, 141. J. Sheehy, Walter Osborne, Gifford and Craven, Ballycotton, 1974, p. 19, no. 62. J. Campbell, 'Walter Osborne's Wallet of Photographs', Irish Art Review Yearbook, 2001, vol. 17, p. 153, illustrated p. 154. Some of Walter Osborne's most memorable pictures were painted in Brittany. He spent the spring of 1883 at Dinan, summer at Pont-Aven and autumn at Quimperlé, painting scenes of Breton life in a naturalistic manner, and also taking photographs. Pont-Aven was one of the most beautiful villages in Finistere with its bridge over the river Aven, stone mills, boats in the port, and surrounding woods. Pont-Aven later became celebrated through its association with Gauguin and his followers, but in 1883, at the time of Osborne's arrival, it was already at the height of its popularity as an artist's village amongst American, British and Scandinavian artists. Osborne painted small pictures of an old mill and the port, and studies of children in a little square, beside the river, and in the market place. The larger canvas Driving a Bargain is a colourful, carefully observed painting of groups of women and children in the centre of Pont-Aven on market day. This painting was sold at Adam's on 29th May 2002 (No. 23 - ?620,000). The present painting A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard is set at Keramperchec, a hamlet a mile from Pont-Aven, along the estuary and sheltered by trees. The pre-fix 'KER' is ubiquitous in Brittany, referring to a village, hamlet or farmhouse. Each village or dwelling was proud of its old stone well, often carved in an individual, regional style. Keramperchec was particularly admired for its secluded rustic setting, with its thatched cottages, farmyard, and beautiful stone well and graceful cupola with carved head, dating from 1783 just before the period of the Vendean Wars. Keramperchec attracted a number of artists, including Jonathan Pratt in 1877, Fernand Quignon (1880), Walter Langley (1881), Sylvain Depeige and Osborne in 1883, Nathaniel Hill in 1884, Arthur Wesley Dow in 1885 and Paul Abram in c. 1895, (and probably Adrian Stokes in 1877 and Henry R. Robinson in 1886), as well as photographers in the early twentieth century. Even though it appears to have been a working farm, even in Osborne's day Keramperchec had become a place where peasants and village girls would pose in a natural setting for artists. Osborne's A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard, 1883, features a man, a girl and two calves in the farmyard at Keramperchec. The man wears a soft Breton hat and blue jacket. He pours water from a wooden bucket into a stone trough for the calves to drink. Nearby, a girl, perhaps the daughter or grand-daughter of the man, sits quietly watching. She wears a pink and white bonnet and white collar, characteristic of the Pont-Aven region, a brown apron over blue dress, and wooden clogs. An earthenware pitcher is placed near her. In her monograph on Walter Osborne, published in 1974, Jeanne Sheehy writes of A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard: ''It is very much an Academy work, being carefully built up and meticulously finished - a typical example of early Osborne, with the child and young animals''. (p.19). But the painting easily transcends any academic conventions. The figures are crisply drawn, and convincingly integrated into the open-air setting, a characteristic of Osborne's 'plein-air' pictures that distinguishes him from many of his contemporaries. Moreover, his attention to detail and his feeling for textures can be seen in the gentle fall of light on the girl's face, the texture of the granite well, with lichen growing, the rough stone walls, small windows and thatched roof of the cottage, and the garden wall where moss is spreading. The farmyard had somewhat fallen into neglect. But wiry trees are in leaf, and through the arched doorway a verdant cabbage patch can be seen. Thin cloud covers the blue sky. Such overcast days were favoured by many 'plein-airists', allowing them to work in an even grey light, with emphasis upon the tonal greys, grey-greens, browns and blue-greys. But in Osborne's painting the ochres, greens and silvers have a glowing warmth, suggesting that the sunshine is going to break through. Nathaniel Hill's smaller painting Goose Girl in a Breton Farmyard, 1884 (Crawford Gallery, Cork) focuses on the right-hand side of the yard, but takes an identical view of the wall, and doorway behind. He represents a girl in white bonnet and apron crouching to feed a flock of young geese. His careful realistic style is almost identical to that of Osborne, although the figure and birds are more generalised in treatment. Osborne may have regarded A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard as a companion piece to Apple Gathering, Quimperlé (N.G.I.), the former being painted at Pont-Aven in summer, the latter at Quimperlé in autumn; and both pictures being exhibited at the R.H.A., and at the Irish section of the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition the following year. A Grey Morning was loaned to the Walter Osborne Memorial Exhibition in Dublin in 1903, the year of the artist's untimely death. A small pencil drawing of Osborne's painting is included in the artist's sketchbook (NGI no. 19,201, facing p.3,[i]) A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard catches a real sense of rustic life that engages our attention. Osborne combines qualities of intensity of observation with detachment, naturalism with affection for his human subject-matter, that became characteristic aspects of his painting throughout his career. Dr. Julian Campbell
Estimate EUR : €100,000.00 - €150,000.00
Auction Date : 29-05-2013

Description

Walter Osborne RHA (1859-1903) A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard Oil on canvas, 52 x 73cm (20 x 28'') Provenance: H.D. Brown, (by 1883), his sale. Edmund Lupton, his sale, (c. 1942). James J. Davey. Sold in these rooms, Important Irish Art Sale, 5th December 2006, lot 93, where purchased by the current owner Exhibition: Dublin, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1884, no. 99. Liverpool, Autumn Literature: T. Bodkin, Four Irish Landscape Painters, 1920 (Irish Academic Press ed. 1987), pp. 188, 131, 141. J. Sheehy, Walter Osborne, Gifford and Craven, Ballycotton, 1974, p. 19, no. 62. J. Campbell, 'Walter Osborne's Wallet of Photographs', Irish Art Review Yearbook, 2001, vol. 17, p. 153, illustrated p. 154. Some of Walter Osborne's most memorable pictures were painted in Brittany. He spent the spring of 1883 at Dinan, summer at Pont-Aven and autumn at Quimperl, painting scenes of Breton life in a naturalistic manner, and also taking photographs. Pont-Aven was one of the most beautiful villages in Finistere with its bridge over the river Aven, stone mills, boats in the port, and surrounding woods. Pont-Aven later became celebrated through its association with Gauguin and his followers, but in 1883, at the time of Osborne's arrival, it was already at the height of its popularity as an artist's village amongst American, British and Scandinavian artists. Osborne painted small pictures of an old mill and the port, and studies of children in a little square, beside the river, and in the market place. The larger canvas Driving a Bargain is a colourful, carefully observed painting of groups of women and children in the centre of Pont-Aven on market day. This painting was sold at Adam's on 29th May 2002 (No. 23 - ?620,000). The present painting A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard is set at Keramperchec, a hamlet a mile from Pont-Aven, along the estuary and sheltered by trees. The pre-fix 'KER' is ubiquitous in Brittany, referring to a village, hamlet or farmhouse. Each village or dwelling was proud of its old stone well, often carved in an individual, regional style. Keramperchec was particularly admired for its secluded rustic setting, with its thatched cottages, farmyard, and beautiful stone well and graceful cupola with carved head, dating from 1783 just before the period of the Vendean Wars. Keramperchec attracted a number of artists, including Jonathan Pratt in 1877, Fernand Quignon (1880), Walter Langley (1881), Sylvain Depeige and Osborne in 1883, Nathaniel Hill in 1884, Arthur Wesley Dow in 1885 and Paul Abram in c. 1895, (and probably Adrian Stokes in 1877 and Henry R. Robinson in 1886), as well as photographers in the early twentieth century. Even though it appears to have been a working farm, even in Osborne's day Keramperchec had become a place where peasants and village girls would pose in a natural setting for artists. Osborne's A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard, 1883, features a man, a girl and two calves in the farmyard at Keramperchec. The man wears a soft Breton hat and blue jacket. He pours water from a wooden bucket into a stone trough for the calves to drink. Nearby, a girl, perhaps the daughter or grand-daughter of the man, sits quietly watching. She wears a pink and white bonnet and white collar, characteristic of the Pont-Aven region, a brown apron over blue dress, and wooden clogs. An earthenware pitcher is placed near her. In her monograph on Walter Osborne, published in 1974, Jeanne Sheehy writes of A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard: ''It is very much an Academy work, being carefully built up and meticulously finished - a typical example of early Osborne, with the child and young animals''. (p.19). But the painting easily transcends any academic conventions. The figures are crisply drawn, and convincingly integrated into the open-air setting, a characteristic of Osborne's 'plein-air' pictures that distinguishes him from many of his contemporaries. Moreover, his attention to detail and his feeling for textures can be seen in the gentle fall of light on the girl's face, the texture of the granite well, with lichen growing, the rough stone walls, small windows and thatched roof of the cottage, and the garden wall where moss is spreading. The farmyard had somewhat fallen into neglect. But wiry trees are in leaf, and through the arched doorway a verdant cabbage patch can be seen. Thin cloud covers the blue sky. Such overcast days were favoured by many 'plein-airists', allowing them to work in an even grey light, with emphasis upon the tonal greys, grey-greens, browns and blue-greys. But in Osborne's painting the ochres, greens and silvers have a glowing warmth, suggesting that the sunshine is going to break through. Nathaniel Hill's smaller painting Goose Girl in a Breton Farmyard, 1884 (Crawford Gallery, Cork) focuses on the right-hand side of the yard, but takes an identical view of the wall, and doorway behind. He represents a girl in white bonnet and apron crouching to feed a flock of young geese. His careful realistic style is almost identical to that of Osborne, although the figure and birds are more generalised in treatment. Osborne may have regarded A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard as a companion piece to Apple Gathering, Quimperl (N.G.I.), the former being painted at Pont-Aven in summer, the latter at Quimperl in autumn; and both pictures being exhibited at the R.H.A., and at the Irish section of the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition the following year. A Grey Morning was loaned to the Walter Osborne Memorial Exhibition in Dublin in 1903, the year of the artist's untimely death. A small pencil drawing of Osborne's painting is included in the artist's sketchbook (NGI no. 19,201, facing p.3,[i]) A Grey Morning in a Breton Farmyard catches a real sense of rustic life that engages our attention. Osborne combines qualities of intensity of observation with detachment, naturalism with affection for his human subject-matter, that became characteristic aspects of his painting throughout his career. Dr. Julian Campbell

Hammer Price : €100,000.00
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