Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Leslie Hunter: A Life in Colour, City Art Centre, Edinburgh

Update: 1/9/2012

A friend has sent me a description of a still life which Leslie Hunter had painted and which is on show in the exhibition.  The painting is titled Still Life with Blue Glazed China Vase:

“The picture is a still life with objects placed on a table. We can only see one corner of the table and it is sitting right in the corner of a room. We are looking into the angled corner of the room. There is a very plain, pale blue almost tubular vase sitting left of centre of the picture. To the right is a shorter, small, indistinct round white vase holding four floppy red tulips, two of which are seen in front of the blue vase. In front of both vases is a blue and white patterned plate which looks like a soup plate. There is an orange and an apple on it. They all sit on the corner of a table covered with a geometric patterned tablecloth coloured in russets and ochres. In the background, the blue vase is seen against a white painted panelled door and the white vase and two remaining tulips are almost lost against a fussy patterned wallpaper with grey, cream, brown and green swirls and splodges.”

This I believe is going on tour and will be included in the Fleming Gallery exhibition in London.

A visit was made to both Ceres and Lower Largo in Fife.  We went in search of trying to match the postcards which I had bought at the City Art Gallery with the church in Ceres and views of Lower Largo.  I think we managed to snap me holding a postcard in front of the church in Ceres from a viewpoint which Leslie Hunter could have used in real life.  In Lower Largo, we managed to take quite a few photographs of Largo Bay from Lower Largo.  It appears that my photograph pointing a camera from a train earlier on may have caught Largo Bay, but also picked up an odd geological feature or two! (see bottom of post)

9th August

We reached the City Art Centre after going down the stairs of the newly resurfaced Scotsman Steps.  The steps were designed by Martin Creed and on a tour with Artlink-Edinburgh I learned all about the marble used. It is a long way down but the traffic delays means this way of getting to the Fruitmarket is useful, if you’re fit.  Going down from North Bridge, the railing is on the left as you descend in an anticlockwise direction. 

The information desk in the gallery was very helpful.  There is an admission charge for the Leslie Hunter exhibition on floors 1 and 2 reached by lift or escalator.  (http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/lesliehunter)

George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931) was one of the Scottish Colourists and as a group they became quite sought after.  The group consisted of four artists, the other three artists being S.J.Peploe (1871-1935), J.D.Ferguson (1874-1961) and F.C.B. Cadell (1883-1937).  Several years ago I had attended a talk by the Fleming Gallery with illustrations of the pictures of the colourists.  At the time I mentioned that the paintings of Largo in Fife would be a magnet for me to go and view them and I did not get round to doing it there and then.  The Fleming Collection website is on: http://www.flemingcollection.co.uk/index.php

The exhibition illustrates much of Hunter’s work in still life, landscapes, village and town scenes and later on some very lined works.  His views of Largo and Ceres in Fife are an absolute delight.  As a child I would visit a great aunt who took out a chalet house in Largo by the beach as it curves on to Kilconquhar.  I even remember going by train from my aunt’s house in Leven and later on by bus to Lower Largo. This stretch of the Fife Coastline was famous for artists, as is Crail and Pittenweem to this day. 

Lower Largo with Crusoe Hotel on the left and beach stretching round Largo Bay in the distance
Fife, Scotland
28 August 2012

On the other side of the Forth, North Berwick had a reputation of being the Biarritz of the Forth.  Hunter has beautiful pictures of Etaples, Villefranche and Juan les Pins. His later work on Loch Lomond shows his development.  He had been influenced by Matisse and had known Munch’s work.

In the upper floors there is a section of other Scottish painters of the time including the others in The Colourists group. 

The shop has 2 books of interest.

George Leslie Hunter – a history and life
Intimate Friends - Fleming Gallery

My viewing notes:

Fife Cottage

Sunrise over Fife Harbour

Cupboard and Kitchen Utensils
Tate Britain

Paintings from private collections, Tate Britain and Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

Three Etaples paintings

The Beach Party, Etaples
Could make out the hats, deck-chairs

Fishing Boats, etaples
Could make out boats

Apres-midi, Beau Rivage, Etaples

Still life
Influence of Dutch painting

Boats, Lower Largo
Oil on board, c1926
Private collection

Largo Beach
Oil on canvas, 1925
Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Ceres, Fife
Oil on canvas, 1923-4
Flattened perspective
Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation

Summer’s Day, Lower Largo
Oil on board, 1921
Private collection

Lower Largo
Oil on panel

Etchings and sketches of Ceres

Still Life with Bible and scissors
Could make out Bible, scissors and chair

Can make out palm trees, church

Houseboats, Balloch
Loch Lomond, boats reflected
Painting said to be as fine as any Matisse

Moonlight, Loch Lomond
Oil on canvas, 1931

In an attempt to recreate houseboats on Loch Lomond at Balloch, I ran into the very friendly staff at the tourist office in Balloch.  Veronica, Claire and Stewart were very welcoming and though Balloch Pier was no longer connected to the railway, they gave instructions on how to find it - and double checked I was on the right path!  They also took this photograph in their office:


In the other floors are examples of others in the group. 
Rocky shore, Iona

Paintings by Peploe, Cadell, Ferguson on 2nd floor

Winter Sea, North Berwick
John Houston

Nice – could make out Bass Rock, waves, surf

The Blue Lamp, 1912


Leslie Hunter (1877-1931)

Fife Cottage
Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on paper, 1919
Private collection

Summer’s Day, Lower Largo
Oil on board, 1921
Private collection

Lower Largo, Fife, c1924-7
Oil on millboard, 20.3 x 51.4 cm
The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, London

Ceres, Fife, c1924-7
Oil on canvas, 60.9 x 50.8 cm
The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, London

Prof Whitestick holding postcard of Ceres Church
as painted by Leslie Hunter in front of Ceres Church
Fife, Scotland
28 August 2012

The Beach Party, Etaples
Oil on panel, 1914
Private collection

Houseboats, Balloch
Oil on canvas, 1931
Private collection

Pathway, Loch Lomond
Oil on canvas
61.7 x 74.3 cm
Private collection

During my examination of the Hunter pictures one of the staff kindly asked if a magnifier would be useful.  I was soon chatting to Ernie Rossi about many of the Scottish painters.  Some characters from the past emerged, especially the Scottish / Italian mix which influenced many fashions in art.  Some of them may have been looked down upon such as Vettriano, but his work sells and is obviously popular. 

The cafĂ© is well worth a visit and having twice I can report that the ginger cake and raspberry are worth an indulgence with a coffee.  Very helpful staff when I went back to get more postcards and buy a book. 

Panorama of Largo Bay
(Prof Whitestick took this photograph unaided from a train
after it had left Kirkaldy and aiming the camera backwards)
20 August 2012