This view of sailing ships in a harbour, two with sail spread in light airs, is non-specific both as to place and era. It may, in fact, be the outer harbour of St Malo, but the artist has avoided easily recognized landmarks and it is not clear if it is intended as a historical scene, or one he witnessed. This could only have been of historic vessels or modern sail-training ships since the work probably dates from shortly before the Museum acquired it in 1978. These details do not matter, however, since the aim is not to record but to conjure an impression of space, light and a cool, timeless mood. The artist was born in Bushey, Hertfordshire. He learnt painting from his father, Allan Robert Brown, and studied at the Margaret Frobisher School in Bushey. In 1929 he began teaching at the Royal Masonic Junior School, but continued his studies in the evenings at Watford School of Art. During holidays, he studied at Heatherley's School under Frederick Whiting and Bernard Adams. In the 1930s he was encouraged by Sir Arnesby Brown and began his association with the East Anglian coast, which became a major theme in his work. In 1947 purchased a cottage in Blakeney, Norfolk, where he lived permanently after retiring in 1970 to his death in 1990. He exhibited at the Southwell Brown Gallery, Richmond, in 1985, the Belgrave Gallery in 1986 and his memorial show in 1991 was at Abbott and Holder’s, London.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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