EDWARD ATKINSON HORNEL

Gathering Blossums

Gathering Blossums

EDWARD ATKINSON HORNEL, ROI, ARSA

1864 - 1933

Title:    “Gathering Blossums”

Date:    1904

Size:    Height   38 inches       Width  44 inches (framed) 

Edward Atkinson Hornel is acknowledged as one of the most important artists of the “Glasgow Boys”. He was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria Australia in 1864 and moved to Scotland with his parents to settle in Kirkcudbright in 1866 where he spent most of his life.  He studied for three years at the Trustees’ Academy, Edinburgh, before going to Antwerp to study under Charles Verlat (1824-1890), the Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.  On his return to Scotland he met fellow artist George Henry (1858-1943) in the autumn of 1885.  Henry introduced Hornel to ‘Glasgow Boy’ James Guthrie (1859-1930) and soon the influence could be seen in Hornel’s work, especially in his adoption of a square brush technique.  Hornel’s art quickly developed, and he became interested in rich colour, dense pattern and an emphasis upon the decorative elements of a picture.  In 1890 Henry and Hornel collaborated on The Druids, a painting in which the decorative elements of incised gesso and overlaid gold co-exist with Celtic mythology, which fascinated Hornel at this time. This important painting is in the permanent collection of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

Hornel’s work was already showing a Japanese influence when in February 1893 he set off for Japan with George Henry.   This visit proved to be of paramount importance in the development of his style, and Hornel produced some of his finest oils during the 19 month-long visit, successfully balancing his feeling for decorative work with figurative drawing and composition. He began to use the dimensional forms common in Japanese woodblock prints and combined this with rich colours and textured paint.  An exhibition of his Japanese works held in Glasgow was a success, but he nevertheless returned to Kirkcudbright to paint children in fancy dress, figures in flower-decked woods, autumnal forests and flowers, and girls by the sea. The period from 1890 – 1910 saw Hornel at his most artistically successful.  His colors, while preserving their glow and richness, became more refined and more atmospheric, and his drawing more naturalistic, combining sensuous appeal with emotional and poetic significance. 

He visited Ceylon in 1907, and Burma in 1918 but this did not have the same inspirational effect as Japan. He was commercially successful and purchased a fine 18th century townhouse in Kirkcudbright before the First World War for £400 with the sale of just one painting. He bequeathed Broughton House and the contents of his studio to the town, and it is now the Hornel Museum managed by the National Trust, with a fascinating Japanese Garden. His work was much in demand and he died a wealthy man in Kirkcudbright. 

Memberships include the Royal Institute of Oil Painters 1904; Society of 25 Artists; and Royal Scottish Academy in 1901.  He exhibited at Kirkcudbright 1883 & 1896; Glasgow 1888; Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham; Fine Art Society; Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts; New English Art Club; Royal Academy; Royal Scottish Academy; Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours; Baillie Gallery; Connell & Sons Gallery; Grosvenor Gallery; Goupil Gallery; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Manchester City Art Gallery; and New Gallery. Examples of his works can be found in the museums of Aberdeen, Buffalo, St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Hull, Bath, and Liverpool.

This wonderful example of his work is presented in pristine condition and is signed and dated by the artist.