Saturday, 22 October 2011

Godfrey Blount's Bushey Watercolours

I recently came across these watercolours listed under the BBC's 'Your Paintings' website.  This website holds 79,000 paintings, with a target to achieve 200,000 paintings.  I had not heard of this project before, but it is a really interesting archive.
Section of re-discovered Cloisters of Herkomer's Art School,
Rose Garden, Bushey,
Hertsmere Borough Council 

Godfrey Blount studied at Bushey sometime between 1881 when he was recorded on the census at Cambridge University, and 1887 when he married Ethel Hine who he met whilst studying at the Slade School of Art.  Blount studied at what was then the Herkomer's Art School, which was in operation between 1883-1904, so that narrows the time frame down to 1883-1887.  "Herkomer had some 500-600 artists studying there before he eventually grew weary of the responsibility of overseeing the school." (Hertsmere Borough Council website).  
Sir Herbert von Herkomer's Rose Garden, Bushey c.1915
Hertsmere Borough Council

Bushey Rose Garden, 2010
Royal Horticultural Society
Herkomer demolished the school in 1912 and built himself a 'Bavarian Castle' of a house called 'Lululuand' after his second wife Lulu.  The house does not remain, the gardens that Herkomer commissioned Thomas Mawson to design in 1913, are now called the Rose Garden.  Mawson created the garden in exchange for a portrait by Herkomer.  The garden is now owned by Hertsmere Borough Council and holds a Grade II listing for a Park and Garden of Special Historic Interest.  The Cloisters photographed above appear to have been recently rediscovered in the Rose Garden.  Doubtless Godfrey Blount would have sat in those cloister contemplating art and life.
Lululuand, Herkomer's house built on the site of Herkomer's Art School

Perhaps Blount is depicted in the painting below.  

'Evening in the Studio with my Students', Herbert von Herkomer, 1886
Goldenage Paintings
When I first saw these Blount watercolours, I thought I was looking at some mislabelled Henry G. Hine paintings.  However, as they are held by Bushey, I believe they must be genuine Godfrey Blount.  I will need to follow this up with the Bushey Museum to see if they have any more information or works by Godfrey Blount.

Sunset over the Downs, Godfrey Blount c.1883,
Bushey Museum at Your Paintings 
There are some interesting parallels not just in the depiction of the light in these watercolours, for which Henry G. Hine (who was to become Godfrey Blount's father-in-law in 1887) was noted, but also in the subject matter of painting the Downs.  

These paintings, particularly the 'Sunset over the Downs' make me wonder whether Blount was at least acquainted with Henry G. Hine at this time.  It is said that he met Hine's youngest daughter, Ethel, at the Slade School of Art where Blount went on to study after he left Bushey.  Indeed I do not understand why Blount would have studied art at Bushey and then gone on to study art at the Slade - did he leave Bushey having completed his studies?  Or did he continue his studies at the Slade in more depth?  

Surrey Landscape, Godfrey Blount c.1883
Bushey Museum at Your Paintings 
The rural setting of Herkomer's Art School, and the attraction this had in drawing artists into the area, who then stayed on to establish studios, must have had some influence upon Blount's later lifestyle in Haslemere.  It is also interesting to see that Blount is expressing an interest in the landscape somewhere within the surrounding regions of Haslemere in these two paintings, a good 15 years before he actually moved to Haslemere.  Whilst Blount's family were based in Bagshot, I am still not clear what led the Peasant Arts members to locate in Haslemere.


  1. How interesting to see completed watercolours by Blount. I wonder how many others exist? Even in his pastel travel drawings , there is a skillful sense of light falling on buildings and people.

    They do look similar to the work of Henry G. Hine don`t they? Just a thought.....Could it be that Henry G Hine taught at both Bushey and The Slade? Is this why Godfrey moved on to The Slade? Was there a system similar the modern one, in which a student would move on to another college after completing a Foundation year? Had Godfrey been influenced by Hine, been invited home for tea and then met Ethel? So many unanswered questions!

  2. Thank you. Now that's a very interesting theory!

    I'll have to see if the Bushey Museum or the Slade can shed any light on this.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...