Sunday, 19 August 2012

Edward Atkinson Hornel - Scottish Painter (1864-1933)


A typical terrace of Scottish houses in Kirkcudbright
The ruined castle of the MacLellan clan in Kirkcudbright.
In the early 15th century it is said there were no fewer than fourteen knights of the name MacLellan in the Galloway area.
and Hornel's house - front / rear
Hornel lived in an 18th century town house on the High Street in Kirkcudbright for 32 years until his death. He came from an old Kirkcudbright family, and became a leading member of the important group of Scottish artists known as the 'Glasgow Boys'. He settle in Kircudbright at the height of his fame, and by personal contact and reputation he attracted other artists to the town, and so he became the founder of the art colony there. 
Whilst up in that corner of Scotland we decided to renew our acquaintance with his home and beautiful garden which backs onto the Dee estuary. The garden still contains flowers, and features designed by Hornel himself. The house has a wonderful upstairs gallery room filled with his paintings which then leads on down an open stairway to his large basement studio.
No photos in the house, but a glimpse of his studio with an unfinished painting sitting forlornly waiting on an easle. The studio has immediate access to the beautiful garden.
Bishop of Llandaff dahlias making a splash of red in the border - a touch of red in a painting is a technique employed by many artists
the border areas of the garden have a wonderful painterly quality to them
Over the wall at the bottom of the garden sits the Dee estuary
Hornel was born in Australia of Scottish parents, but was brought up and lived practically all of his life in Scotland. He was a great friend of the painter George Henry and they collaborated together on the painting The Druids Bringing in the Mistletoe - a procession of druidic priests bringing in the sacred mistletoe, pictured below.
In 1893 Hornel and Henry spent 18 months living in Japan where Hornel learned much about decorative design and spacing. He produced some of his finest work whilst in Japan which was a great success when he exhibited them in Glasgow on his return. However, he then returned to Kircudbright to paint children in fancy dress, figures in flower decked woods, and girls by the sea. He also visited Ceylon and Burma but this did not have the same inspirational effect as Japan.
Summer
Children by the Sea
Two Geisha Girls via wikipedia
Head of a Sinhalese Girl
 images courtesy BBC except where stated otherwise

32 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    Another wonderful experience for you and, through your sharing, for us too as this post serves as a very comprehensive and informative introduction to an artist about whom we have heard very little beyond our learning about him from the catalogue 'From Van Gogh to Vettriano' of the Aberdeen Art Gallery where Hornel's work formed part of this exhibition earlier this year.

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    1. Many Scottish painter's pictures do seem to be held mainly in Scotland's own art galleries, and in particular the 'Glasgow Boys' work. I know Aberdeen Art Gallery very well because my eldest son lived there for 4 years, and it is a place that we have visited often.
      I am pleased that you were acquainted with Hornel's work, and that this post may have put 'a bit more meat on the bones' for you.

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  2. What an amazing artist Hornel was. I now know about him.
    The painting of the Druids is so unique in his interpretation.. the faces of the Druids are mixed features.. fantastic colours.
    I love the Geisha girls.
    The flowers in the garden of his home are spectacular. I have truly never seen such a beautiful array of flowers.
    thank you Rosemary for this wonderful post and insight into Edward Hornel.
    val

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    1. The rich colours in the Druid painting are beautiful especially with the highlights in gold.
      Whenever we have visited his home we have always found the garden to be full of flowers whether it be spring, summer or autumn.
      So pleased that you enjoyed this small introduction to Hornel and liked the post - thank you.

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  3. Thank you for such a wonderful introduction to Hornel Rosemary. The Druids is a very majestic and verging on psychedelic image and one which I find quite mesmerising.
    The gardens are lovely. A very impressive display of agapanthus, I find them so much nicer when grown en masse and I love your layered composition of Astrantia, grasses and Heleniums.

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    1. The Druid painting is, I agree, mesmerising. I was fortunate enough to see it at an exhibition in the Barbican Centre called 'The Last Romantics' over 20 years ago. It is a painting on a very large scale, and is permanently housed at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow.
      The composition of the Astrantias, wheat coloured grasses and Heleniums was one of my favourite borders too.
      Thank you Paul, and pleased you enjoyed the introduction to Hornel.

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  4. Dear Rosemary, The Hornel painting entitled "Summer" is most charming and I still see influences of the time he spent in Japan. You have introduced to me another talented and to me unknown artist. You tell his story so well and seeing such abundance of flowers was an extra treat. The first thing I see is that the flowers and plants, some so popular, are so much larger than they appear in my garden. A fact I have noticed before and I am sure has something to do with the additional moisture and more moderate climate.

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    1. Dear Gina - glad you enjoyed this brief introduction to Hornel, I always enjoy learning about new artists myself.
      It is an interesting fact you mention about the flowers being so much bigger over here. You have probably hit the nail on the head when you refer to the moisture and more moderate climate. In that particular corner of Scotland everything is extremely lush and they can also grow exotics out of doors, plants that would not survive in any other part of Scotland during the winter. The reason that Galloway has a very mild climate is due to the Gulf Stream whose flow of warm seawater passes by that western peninsular of Scotland.

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  5. If I had a studio, I would want ti to open onto a garden like that! Beautiful pictures!

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    1. It is a perfect setup for a painter and I am sure was inspirational for him.

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  6. Such a pretty house and garden. I haven't heard of the painter Hornel before, but I do like his work. I wouldn't mind having the painting with the two little girls on my wall!

    Madelief x

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    1. About 25 years ago I had the opportunity to buy a Hornel of two little girls smelling apple blossom. I dithered about it and could not make up my mind as even then it was quite expensive. Finally I decided it was too much to spend on one painting, but of course it would be worth much more now. However, I do not regret it, as the responsibility would be too much to have it hanging on our walls. It would need to spend all of its time in a bank vault, and that is not the place for art.

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  7. Greetings Rosemary!
    Thoroughly enjoyed this tour, the garden is beautiful. Excellent use of colour, the grass shot is delightful!

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    1. Hi Bertie - good to hear from you again.
      The garden is lovely and so are all the flower combinations and especially that wonderful golden grass. I think that it reflects Hornel's artistic eye.

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  8. W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L story and a B-L-I-S-S-F-U-L garden tour. Want to visit! Envy the immediate access to the garden! Have a good start into the new week and thank you for this interesting post! Christa

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    1. I am sure that the immediate access to the garden from the studio must have been inspirational for Hornel. I have visited it several times over the years and never tire of seeing it. Thanks for your lovely comment Christa.

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  9. The "Glasgow Boys" are favourites of mine - thank you for putting Hornel in context so beautifully.

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    1. Dear Nilly - I am so pleased that you like the 'Glasgow Boys' too. They have been favourites of mine for a long time. The house and garden help to explore a little about Hornel, but of course it is just a wee glimpse.

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  10. I too love the Glasgow Boys, and think the Druids paiting is one of my all time favourites. The thistle photo is stunning too. That blue stem is just gorgeous. A great post Rosemary. J.

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    1. Great that another thumbs up for the Glasgow Boys - jolly good Janice.
      The thistle was lovely, and the blue stem I found complimented it beautifully. I have never seen one with such a strong colour before.

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  11. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit of Hornel’s house and gardens. His paintings are delightful- those about children especially. I had not heard about the Glasgow Boys so now will try to read up on them.

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    1. Hornel's house and garden is a lovely place to visit. Artists often do have a special ambience in and around their homes. I hope that you will find the Glasgow Boys group of painters interesting when you read up on them.

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  12. What a beautiful garden! Thanks for taking us with you. I had never seen any of the paintings you're showing here, so thanks for that as well. They are really special and probably typical for the painter Hornel.
    Bye,
    Marian

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    1. The combinations of flowers in Hornel's garden are lovely, and it is situated in such a lovely spot - high walls all around it and the estuary at the bottom of the garden.

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  13. My dear Rosemary
    Another very interesting post. The house (the tower !) and the lovely garden are amazing. His life was vigorous with many trips, but it seems that he inspired of mysticism by the Japanese culture.Vibrant colors with bold thick strokes!
    Thank you for this post !
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - you are right that four storey round bay at the back of the house does rather resemble a tower, and many years ago it may have been a lookout feature as it points towards the Dee estuary.
      Some of Hornel's early paintings were influenced by the Celtic movement a revival that sought to trace the true origins of Scots and Scottish culture. Your use of the word vibrant is the perfect word to use for many of is paintings. However, his paintings of children have an almost ethereal quality to them.

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  14. Sighs in admiration and contentment for both the photos and flowers!  Thank you for the introduction of Hornel and his paintings. There’s so much room for me to learn little by little. 

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - the fact that Hornel was so influenced by the 18 months that he spent in Japan is probably of interest to you. I understand that he painted about 50 paintings following his trip which he sold out completely at an exhibition he had in Glasgow on his return.

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  15. The gardens are truly beautiful and I agree with you, flowers have been placed with the eye of a painter. I love the flower with the blue stem, silvery-green foliage and caramel center - stunning combination!

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    1. Dear Rosemary - I am pleased that you feel the same. The blue stemmed plant is Eryngium - Sea Holly, and I think the one shown is sapphire blue or maritium.

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  16. Hi Rosemary,
    I learn so much reading your posts! I too had never heard of Hornel before and I love the picture of the 2 girls by the sea. His home and garden look wonderful,and the display of flowers is outstanding. This looks such a lovely part of Scotland too.
    Sarah x

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    1. The picture of the girls by the sea was painted along the coast in Kirkcudbright and is typical of the paintings he did during his time there. You may have seen some from time to time as several of them often feature on birthday cards.
      I am sure that you would enjoy a trip to that part of the world, do put it on your holiday list.

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