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The Property of the late Mrs. E. M. Harvey-Samuel; Sotheby's, London, 13 March 1980, lot 49.
MYLES BIRKET FOSTER, R.W.S. (1825-1899)
LOTS 14 - 17
Myles Birket Forster was born in North Shields and moved to London as a child, becoming an apprentice wood engraver to Ebenezer Landells. Throughout the 1850s he taught himself to paint in watercolour and he turned to the medium seriously in 1859. Thereafter he exhibited some four hundred works at the Royal Watercolour Society and was elected an Associate and Full Member in 1860 and 1862, and achieved sell-out exhibitions at the Fine Art Society throughout his career.
Although well known for his Surrey paintings, particularly from the Godalming area, he also travelled widely, and painted the countryside along the Rhine, the Swiss lakes and in Italy, especially Venice.
After his death in 1899 the Dalziel Brothers recalled: Myles Birket Foster 'stands as one of England's most popular landscape draughtsmen and as a painter in water-colour of great distinction'. The Daily Graphic (26 December 1906) exclaimed 'Birket Foster produced something new - he was a tête d'école never approached by any other of his followers or rivals'.
The following lots are magnificent examples of Birket Foster's diverse skill with watercolour. Lot 14 typifies his minute attention to detail on an intimate scale, revealing the grain in the wooden floorboards and the textures of the clothing worn by the figures. Lots 15 to 17 are a testament to Birket Foster's outstanding ability to master large scale compositions. Despite their impressive scale, all retain the same delicacy of detail characteristic of Birket Foster's style. He used a very fine brush with small amounts of paint and employs a stipple technique, especially on the flesh.