11 June 2004
Benjamin Williams Leader, R.A. (1831-1923)
A sunny stream - Beardon, Dartmoor
signed and dated 'B.W.LEADER.1883' (lower left) and further signed, inscribed and dated 'A sunny stream, Bear Down vale, Dartmoor B.W.Leader' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
56½ x 42 in. (143.5 x 106.8 cm.)
Purchased from the artist by Vokins, October 1883 (£400).
Mrs A.R. Paske; Christie's, London, 16 July 1976, lot 38, £2,200.
with Richard Green, London.
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The artist's diary, 20 December 1865 (diary held at Frost & Reed, London).
The artist's own sale records, 1883.
R. Wood, Benjamin Williams Leader: His Life and Paintings, Woodbridge, 1998, p. 100.
Leader painted very few Devon landscapes, which is surprising because he married Devonshire-born Mary Eastlake in 1876. Although visits to his wife's family were frequent, Leader's reluctance to paint the surrounding countryside can be partly explained by his diary of 20 December 1865. After returning from a visit to North Devon, the artist wrote that he 'did not work, not caring for the scenery'. Perhaps this view of a stream running through a wooded landscape reminded Leader of earlier excursions to paint the river Llugwy between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig in North Wales.
A small finished oil sketch on board (18 x 14 in.) for this work exists, which was sold to the London art dealer Vokins in 1883.
We are grateful to Ruth Wood for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.
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