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Replanting an Ernest Walbourn poppy field…

Re-tracing Ernest Walbourn’s 1923 visit to Brittany was hugely exciting but the paintings aren’t really typical of his output, most of which is decidely English. We know he took his paints to Australia when he went to sell the family property in 1902  as there’s a view of Table Mountain from when he stopped in Cape Town on the way, but there don’t appear to be any paintings from down under. Almost all of his subjects are home grown and typical of a certain sort of English art of the time. He may have appreciated Kandinsky, Picasso, Klee or  Matisse, but you can’t tell that from his paintings. His landscapes wouldn’t be out of place in a Hardy novel (we also have some sketches from the West country). There are some spectacular (and, nowadays, expensive) paintings of  poppy fields. The nearest we have to one of those is a sketch which does have poppies but also a blank space where he never got around to putting in a figure.  Even the artist’s art-school educated granddaughter wouldn’t normally attempt the extremely transgressive act of attempting to ‘improve’ an Ernest by painting a new figure, but Penny dared to think we could rescue the sketch by replanting part of the field. This is what it looked like:

The problem is that your eye is drawn immediately to the non-existent figure, rather than seeing what the artist actually saw. It’s a little frightening looking back at what she did…

and then this:




She reduced the width of the original, effectively contracting the view but not otherwise damaging it,  and used the offcut to make an insert matched to the shape of the hole. Surely this can’t possibly work…? Well, after a bit of touching up, it did:

2 Responses to “Replanting an Ernest Walbourn poppy field…”

  1. Roger Marsh says:

    So brave to restore the poppy field. Well done Penny!

  2. John Potter says:

    Thanks! It was a bit transgressive, but the original would never have found its way onto a wall so we thought it worth a shot. You’d never to know, to look at it now.

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