The Pictures staff are very excited for the upcoming Scottish Pictures Auction on the 22nd of August at McTear’s. Featured in this sale, are not one but three beautiful examples of work by Edward Atikinson Hornel that are expected to cause quite a stir in the auction. One hundred and eighty three examples of Hornel’s work are included in the UK’s finest public collections of which more details and examples can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/edward-atkinson-hornel.
The first of the coveted selection is lot 1440. This painting is a classic example of his style and subject matter and is entitled ‘Girls at Brighouse Bay’ and it is in at a punchy, yet worthy estimate of £12000 – 18000. This painting of two girls at the coast is a brilliant example of not only his most financially successful but also his most popular works and it is aesthetically reminiscent of all the accompanying styles and influences he employed whilst remaining at its heart, quintessentially Scottish in subject and tone with these two innocent Scottish girls enjoying a spring day at the beach.
Although Hornel was born in Victoria, Australia in 1864, he was born to Scottish parents and spent the majority of his childhood and adult life living in Kirkcudbright, Scotland from the age of two. He went on to study Fine Art at the Edinburgh School of Art followed by two short years in Antwerp, studying under Verlat, however, like many Scots, he was urged to return to his homeland and returned to Kirkcudbright and this is where he met and formed a lifelong friendship and partnership with George Henry beginning in 1885, leading him to loosely associate himself with the famous Scottish art movement and collective formally known as The Glasgow Boys. It was through the influence of the Glasgow Boys style that Hornel began to hone his own, adopting their use of a square brushstroke seen in the works of George Guthrie who served as an influence for Hornel in his early career. His painting style has often been described as dense but his use of colour and light summery tones add an element of whimsy to his work. As his style matured, it took on a mosaic like appearance through application of the paint and the decorative aesthetic, along with the short, wide and square brushstrokes really did imitate that of a mosaic. His favourite subject areas appeared to be rather wholesome in tone as he focused on painting woodland scenes, flowers and portraits. It is his enchanting portraits of children, however, for which he is most recognised. The range of cultures that shines through as the inspiration behind the canon of Hornel’s work including not just a Glasgow Boys aesthetic but also influences from Celtic mythology, seen in his use of rich gold’s and particularly in his ‘The Druids’ painting, a collaboration with Henry. But Hornel also employed an Eastern aesthetic inspired by the increasingly popular Japanese decorative style that had a great effect on many artists of the time and the oriental influences of the Anglo-Japanese movement can be seen throughout Glasgow born craftsmanship and art for examples, in the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Christopher Dresser to name a few. Hornel was fortunate enough to make his way to the Orient with the financial backing of William Burrell and Alexander Reid, Henry in tow, to experience the artwork and culture of Japan which so inspired his works of the 1890s.
Keeping to the Hornel heavy theme of this auction we also see two further examples of the great artists’ work. The first, lot 1432 titled ‘Girl Amongst Blossom and the second at lot 1433, ‘Girl Gathering Blossom’ both depict, as the titles suggest, young girls admiring the blossom tree. This favourite theme of Hornel and encompasses all of his various cultural influences for the child adopts a druid and Celtic like effect as well as a Japanese theme through the employment of the cherry blossom. From the first Hornel that came through McTear's doors earlier this month, to the final two, Hornel’s presence at McTear’s has blossomed this month and we are looking forward to seeing how these three beautiful examples of the well-known artist’s oeuvre fare on Thursday the 28th at the upcoming Scottish Pictures Auction at McTear’s!