Saturday, 16 July 2016

Edward Bawden: Larchwood

Edward Bawden, Larchwood, 1933-5, Graves Sheffield (artist copyright)

Looking through his friend’s new work in the early summer of 1935, Ravilious was struck by its freshness, and this may well have been one of the pictures Bawden carefully pinned up for him to enjoy. The motif of the lane disappearing enigmatically into the woods is one that has attracted numerous modern artists of a Romantic disposition, from Paul Nash to David Hockney. Bawden’s treatment of the subject is extraordinary, the palette colourful but crisp and the woodland to the right veiled in diaphanous scratched lines which suggest shadow and mystery without attempting to represent directly the dim space beyond the trees.

As so often with Bawden, the originality of the painting lies in his uncanny ability to communicate graphically both the appearance of a place and his feelings. Across the lane – probably looking south from Beslyns [near Great Bardfield]– the bare trees face one another, hinting in their pallor at the lances borne so decoratively by the knights in Paulo Uccello’s celebrated painting ‘The Battle of San Romano’ (1438–40).

This is an excerpt from 'The Lost Watercolours of Edward Bawden', out soon from The Mainstone Press.

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