Friday, May 10, 2013

Clausen, Sir George

Apple Blossom
oil on canvas
size unknown
private Collection

Sir George Clausen RA (1852 -1944), was an English artist working in oil and watercolor. He was born in London, the son of a decorative painter of Danish descent. He attended the design classes at the South Kensington School of Art in London with great success, from 1867 to 1873. After studying there on a two-year scholarship, he decided to further his training at the Antwerp Academy. Whilst in the Netherlands he travelled along the coast, making studies in the fishing villages on his way. At this time he also embarked on his first forays to Paris and the influence of French art took root in his practice.

Clausen became one of the foremost modern painters of landscape and of peasant life, influenced to a certain extent by the impressionists, with whom he shared the view that light is the real subject of landscape art. His pictures excel in rendering the appearance of things under flecking outdoor sunlight, or in the shady shelter of a barn or stable.

In 1895 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and a full Academician in 1906. As Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy he gave a memorable series of lectures to the students of the Schools, published as Six Lectures on Painting and Aims and Ideals in Art.

Clausen was an official war artist during World War I. In the war his daughter's fiance was killed. During the 1920s he painted numerous landscapes around his country cottage on Dutton Hill, Essex. The success of his war commission led to several invitations to paint murals, notably Wycliffe's English Bible for the Houses of Parliament, and upon completion of this project he was knighted for his services to the arts in 1927.

Clausen’s best paintings were always the fruit of a profound study of country life, of landscapes in sun and shade, of flowers, of work on the farm. His most remarkable characteristic was his power of growth. No other painter of his age responded so freely to the spirit of the times - and that without injury to the strongly personal character of his work. He was concerned with conditions of light, a favorite of his being the prismatic play of color when objects are seen against the sun. He, however, differed from the French Impressionists by retaining integrity of form. Nobody excelled him in the capacity to suggest bulk and solidity in conditions when the actual features of landscapes were almost obliterated. In all his work he showed a poetical appreciation akin to that of Thomas Hardy, but without the abiding sense of tragedy of the relation of man to nature. His portraits were distinguished by a peculiar gravity.