Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Painter of Presteigne

The Hereford Art Gallery and Museum is curently showing an exhibition of Watercolours by Joseph Murray Ince 1806-1851 to celebrate his bicentenary. Although born in London he was brought up in Presteign. He was a fine watercolourist who studied for three years with David Cox in Hereford before finally establishing himself as a painter in London. The link goes to the Powys On-line History Project that gives more information about him and contains an illustration of his work.
Follow the link - Joseph Murray Ince

Seeing an exhibition of largely topographical watercolours by a single 19th Century artist is a striking reminder of how the best work of that period was underpinned by really sound draughtsmanship. This is a quality that often missing in modern watercolour due to the prevalent fashion for 'loooseness.' The quality of Ince's mastery of drawing can be seen in his sketchbook studies in the exhibition. These are fine examples of firmly controlled linework done mostly in pencil – simple means but wonderful artistry.

In Ince's day painters had to be content with a few simple colours – the modern synthetic colours and those made from coal tar derivatives like Alizarin and French Ultramarine did not arrive until some time later. Ince's palette was made up of Cobalt blue, a few earth colours and white. Greens were made from black, yellow ochre, with a touch of cobalt. Cobalt and yellow ochre were used for skies and occasionally light red.

With these simple colours they often fell back on well-tried strategies. Blues were kept for distances and foregrounds were laid in over a warm background wash of yellow ochre or light red. Foreground incidentals frequently contained a touch of vermilion used for a farm labourer's waistcoat or a skirt.

As a student with David Cox Ince probably learned by copying his tutor's sketches and paintings. It was the standard method of teaching and has much to commend it.

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