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Edward Burra (1905-1976)
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Edward Burra (1905-1976)

Landscape near Rye

Edward Burra (1905-1976)
Landscape near Rye
with stamped signature 'E.J.Burra' (lower right)
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour
31¼ x 53 in. (79.4 x 134.6 cm.)
Executed in 1964-65.
Purchased by the present owner at the 1965 exhibition.
A. Causey, Edward Burra Complete Catalogue, Oxford, 1985, no. 306, illustrated.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Watercolours by Edward Burra, May 1965, no. 9.
London, Olympia, Edward Burra, February - March 2001, no. 9.
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Lot Essay

Andrew Causey (op. cit., p. 78) comments of Burra's later work, 'Burra increasingly preferred large-scale, empty places. When cultivation and the human imprint showed at all, it was often as a pattern of ploughing or arrangement of dry-stone walls whose geometry gave a certain effect of anonymity. He avoided scenes marked by the kinds of variety or complexity that might bring them within the eighteenth-century definition of the picturesque, but his interest in grandeur of scale and apparent limitlessness has much in common with contemporary concept of the sublime. Burra had the sublime landscapist's ability to show nature as overwhelming and awe inspiring, ... Burra's isolation of houses and farmsteads as tiny white spots on a hillside or flat plain defined in effect the cultivated, civilized world as a series of enclaves in the midst of boundless nature. Even if the lonely farmhouse can be seen as a metaphor for the condition of the individual in an unfriendly world, it does not imply that Burra necessarily sympathized with the Romantics' sense of nature as a divine manifestation, and landscape therefore as a bridge between man and cosmos. Burra clung to reality, painful though it was, rather than engage in building cosmologies he did not believe in, and landscape remained for him ... a place of last resort for the disenchanted'.

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