21 November 2002
Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A., R.W.S. (1849-1914)
The old gardener
signed with initials 'HH' (lower left), signed again and inscribed 'No. 2., 'The old Gardener'/Hubert Herkomer/32 Smith St. Kings Rd/Chelsea, SW' and with a further inscription 'Foster. Gardener II/C.E. Fry/The Little Elms/Watford. about 18[?]2/Hants' (on the artist's label attached to the backboard)
pencil, bodycolour and gum arabic with scratching out
6 x 8 in. (15.2 x 20.3 cm.)
C.E. Fry. The Little Elms, Watford about 18[?]2.
with Spink-Leger, London.
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A.L. Baldry, Hubert von Herkomer, R.A., London, 1901, p. 116.
L. MacCormick Edwards, Herkomer: A Victorian Artist, Aldershot, 1999, p. 47, pl. V, illustrated.
This is an early watercolour dating from 1873, the year in which Herkomer first exhibited at the Royal Academy. The technique shows the influence of Frederick Walker on Herkomer at this time. Walker applied tiny dabs of dry paint, using bodycolour to give opacity and intensity of colour. The tiny brushstrokes that depict every detail of the gardener's face and the gem-like tulips contrast with the much looser treatment of the background. The gardener is Foster, working in the garden of Clarence Fry, Herkomer's patron. Fry lived at The Little Elms, Watford, not far from Herkomer's home at Bushey. Later, in 1888, Herkomer was to execute a series of watercolours around his home, one of which is entitled 'Summertime' and shows an old man and his garden painted in a similar style to 'The Old Gardener'.
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