Londesborough, England 1862 – Montrose, Victoria, Australia 1935
Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: drawings, watercolours, painting in watercolour Support: paper
Awash with sensuously graded tones of watercolour, Blamire Young’s ghostly portrait of Grandfer Cantle epitomises the artist’s belief that ‘art is emotional, not precise’. The portrait captures the essence of the serenading ex-soldier who inhabits the murky and desolate environs of Egdon Heath in Thomas Hardy’s novel The return of the native. He claims to be a man of the world, flaunting his worldliness to his fellow heath-bound peasant folk, yet in the senility of old age is destined to die, like them, a mere heath-man. Young’s eerie portrait stands apart from his watercolours of the theatrical world and is one of several works inspired by Hardy’s novels. Grandfer Cantle was painted in 1920 when the artist was living in London, and was included in his exhibition at London’s Fine Art Society in October 1920, as was another work inspired by Hardy’s poem The revisitation. Grandfer Cantle may well have been a poster design following the adaptation of Hardy’s novel for the theatre that same year.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra