Source Glasgow Boys, Roger Bilcliffe
Author T and R Annan, Glasgow
Inspired by the Dutch and French schools and artists like James A. McNeil Whistler, the Glasgow boys produced their most notable works between the 1890’s and 1910. Showing an interest in realism, impressionism and inspired by compositional techniques, the Glasgow Boys tried to challenge the Edinburgh dominated art scene.
In the years prior to the outbreak of war in 1914, Glasgow was part of a great artistic evolution. The Glasgow School or Glasgow Boys as they are known paved the way for a new ‘modern’ style of painting that swept Europe and America. From the 1880’s the Glasgow Boys were exhibiting their works in the Salon in Paris. The Glasgow Boys consisted of an informal association of some twenty artists; its main figures were William York Macgregor, Joseph Crawhall, George Henry, Edward Atkinson Hornel, Sir John Lavery and Arthur Melville. Many members of this Glasgow collective went to France to study in Paris or in the rural artists' colonies in France. The paintings done by many of the group during the 1880s was among their most radical. Their compositions showed a particular interest in rural realism, in working out-of-doors, and in French-inspired tonal and compositional techniques.
Joseph Crawhall (1861 – 1913) was one such member of the Glasgow Boys, who used unconventional methods often working from visual memory. The painting Piebald Driving is finely executed with a vivid sense of movement. Crawhall is generally recognized as one of the greatest draughtsman of his age, using a free and rapid technique in order to capture the atmosphere of a scene through a few deft pen and brush marks. Most of his paintings include animals, particularly horses, and his best work is highly sensitive to the character of the subject.
Walton's small-scale portrait of his friend Joseph Crawhall shows him in a studio, a clay pipe in one hand, leaning against the back of a canvas. Bullfighting posters are attached to the canvas which is propped against another depicting a bull-fight. They allude to several of Crawhall's artistic preoccupations: Spain, Morocco and animals. The two artists met through Walton's brother Richard who married Crawhall's sister Judith. Walton's main interest was landscape painting but he was also a gifted portraitist and makes humorous reference to contemporary stylistic labeling in his inscription: 'Joe Crawhall the impressionist by E.A.Walton the realist'.
Clifton Bridgeman Art Library / Burrell Collection
Clifton Bridgeman Art Library / Burrell Collection
Glasgow, Scotland Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums)
A Lincolnshire Pasture
Spangled Cock Current Loc Privatsammlung
Source Sally Liddell: Sotherby's Art at Auction 1988-89
Sotheby's Publications, London
Joseph Crawhall was born in Morpeth, Northumberland. He was the fourth child and second son of Joseph Crawhall II and Margaret Boyd. Crawhall specialised in painting animals and birds. In the 1880s and 1890s, his work became associated with the Glasgow Boys. He was strongly influenced by the Impressionists, and, like them, his work was rejected by the Establishment, in his case in the form of the Royal Scottish Academy. In the 1880s he travelled throughout Morocco and Spain, abandoning oil painting and moving to watercolours with a lighter palette. Many of his works are viewable in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and in the Burrell Collection.
The Governess Cart
Source Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove, Glasgow, Scotland
Pigeons on the Roof
In the 1890s, after his family had moved to London, Crawhall was a regular visitor to the annual fair in the London borough of Barnet and painted the picture Barnet Fair. Here Crawhall captures the color and atmosphere of this centuries-old event in the paint technique Gouache on Linen. This painting is held at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Tangier, with its walled Medina intersected by narrow streets and dominated by the Kasbah, was perceived by the writers, artists and tourists who dared travel there as a mystical, magical place. Unlike most artist visitors to Tangier, Crawhall was not interested in portraying the social or physical context of the city. Instead he captured and conveyed the characteristics of Tangier's domestic animals, particularly horses, camels and goats.
Crawhall first painted with gouache on linen around 1893. According to family legend he was visiting one of his sisters when he discovered that he had no paper left to work on. He decided to experiment with the brown Holland linen she used for sewing. Watercolor is transparent. By adding bodycolor or Chinese white you get gouache, which unlike watercolor is opaque. This is sometimes known as poster paint. Painting with gouache on linen is difficult but Crawhall uses it to advantage. Crawhall often uses bright patches of colour to frame and outline forms allowing him to define shapes without having to use strong contouring lines.
Crawhall was one of the most talented and highly regarded artists ever produced by Scotland. His favorite subjects were often painted on linen or silk. He is recognized as one of the most important horse painters of the twentieth century and his intimate knowledge of animals and birds can also be clearly seen in his work. Although he worked extremely rapidly, he was a great perfectionist and he once discarded a picture, retrieved from the waste bin by a friend, which later won a gold medal in Munich. This perfectionism, coupled with his early death, from emphysema (he was a heavy smoker), account for the small volume of surviving work. He died in London on 24th May 1913, aged 51.