Sunday, December 6, 2015

Joseph Crawhall (British, 1861-1913)

Joseph Crawhall (English, 1861-1913) was so demanding in his expectations of his artwork that he produced only two or three paintings a year.

He went back through his earlier paintings and destroyed most of them.

He was not a steady, industrious artist, but rather his art was the product of fleeting moments of inspiration, punctuated by frustrating dry spells. Another of his passions was raising horses.

Many of his works show his enduring admiration for Japanese art.

He had a prodigious visual memory. He refined his ability to recollect complex scenes, grasping essentials with elegant simplicity, and placing in the picture only the important details.

His memory was so powerful that he could watch a coach pass by, pulled by a team of four horses, and then go home and paint an accurate picture of the entire scene.

Sometimes a memory would lodge in his mind and wait days or weeks to crystallize and demand to be painted.

Though he started his career in oil, he finished in watercolor. Many of his pictures are painted on a prepared gray-brown ground.

writer in his time described his painting Piebald Driving: "He sets down with absolute directness the effect of the walking horse, with his hind legs partly obscured by the cloud of dust he himself raises; and such is the painter's facility, his absolute control over his method and his medium, that with one touch of his brush he gives us color, contour, modeling, movement, structure, and texture.
Book: Joseph Crawhall, 1861-1913: One of the Glasgow Boys
Studio Magazine, 1904, Volume 32
Joseph Crawhall on Wikipedia.
Bio on the Tate website
Related post on Cecil Aldin


Unknown said...

Amazing artist! I have once seen his work and then couldn't find his name, now due to your post, Mr. Gurney, I've discovered him once again.
How unfortunate it is, though, that he has destroyed most of his works. Wish to see these great watercolors in real life :)

Annelotte Fellinger said...

The painting of the duck is in the Netherlands right now, as a part of an exhibition of the work of the Glasgow Boys. It was very cool to see in real life, how he uses transparent and opaque watercolor. You can see it a bit in these pictures,

Tom Hart said...

Thanks for bringing him to my/our attention. It's amazing work, and it's fascinating to contemplate what might have been the connections between his photographic memory and his sporadic work. It seems to have been a form of perfectionism - and the double edged sword of that particular trait.

gf said...

Wow. What a treat. Thank you.

James Pailly said...

Wow. It's hard to imagine painting all that from memory.

james holland said...

He often painted on linen-possibly unprimed and with gouache.He came from a wealthy family and owned horses himself.
Anyone interested in C19 graphic design should check out the work of his father,another Joseph who produced variations on C17 and later naïve woodcuts.

evensketchier said...

That horse's back right leg or hoof more specifically, through the cloud of dust does not look to be settling in the right spot. Everything else is beautiful, but I keep looking back at that hoof.

yvonne said...

He has always been a favorite of mine. So glad you featured him.

telestudies said...

He reminded me of William D. Berry, most known with his knowledge for the wilderness and his amazing sketches and after all left just a few finished paintings and tons of sketches and studies. Most of his Alaskan sketches were also done extremely from memory, based on observations earlier the same or the previous days.
Great article!