Thursday, September 30, 2010

John Brett - Forest Creek, Newport Sandbanks, Pembrokeshire Coast

Price Realized £9,400

Forest Creek, Newport Sandbanks, Pembrokeshire Coast
inscribed 'FOREST Creek 15 July 82' (upper right); and signed and inscribed 'Newport Sandbank Pembrokeshire Coast/by John Brett/ARA' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
71/8 x 141/8 in. (18.1 x 36 cm.)

A sketch for this view can be found in the artist's sketchbook, held in the National Maritime Museum.

The present work is a smaller version of one commissioned by Dr J. Watt Black in 1882. The larger oil measures 15 x 29½ in. and is currently in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Brett is particularly known for his Pre-Raphaelite works of the 1850s, including The Glacier of Rosenlaui, (1856) (Tate Gallery, London), The Stonebreaker, (1857-8) (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) and Val d'Aosta, (1858) (Private Collection).

In 1863-64 Brett visited the Bay of Naples and began thereafter to paint sea pictures and coastal views; in subsequent years he frequently travelled along the coast of the British Isles during the summer months. He painted several pictures of Cardigan Bay including one which was exhibited in 1892 at the Royal Academy.

Brett frequently included rocks in the foreground of his coastal scenes which enabled him to display his skills at portraying their detailed surfaces. He was interested in geology and, as a scientist of some repute, was a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He used strict mathematical theory to determine the size of his canvases; the eye could take in a view on a horizontal azimuth of 60 degrees, and it was his opinion that 'all the paintable phenomena in nature occur within an angle of about fifteen degrees above or below the horizon'. This resulted in almost all of his paintings being exactly twice as long as they are high.

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