In All Saints’ Church, Warlingham, Surrey, England, there is a simple alabaster tablet inscribed to the memory of Charles Langton Lockton (1856-1932), the town’s long-time resident artist. Whether because they prefer anonymity or for other personal reasons, many times we know very little of an artist’s life beyond their exhibition record.
This is not the case with Charles Langton Lockton. Fortunately, because he donated several paintings to his village, and because he was a well-liked character, the local library provides some detail on his life. “Charles was a sincere, straightforward man, always willing to help others with his kindness and generosity,” notes the Wallingham, Surrey library.
Charles was eight years old when his father, the Reverend Philip Lockton, moved the family from Tasmania to the (then) quiet rural outskirts of London. Charles became a pupil at Merchant Taylors’ School in London, which compared favorably with Eton and Harrow. He developed as more of an athlete there than a scholar, the library says, adding that at 16 he became the youngest English Champion on record for the long jump.
Eventually, he took a position as a Clerk in the House of Commons, married and had two children, the names of whom I can provide upon request. More of interest to his connection to the art world, Lockton moved his family to Wallingham in 1894, where built he a house with an art studio in the garden. He took up painting as a relaxing hobby, passing “many happy hours painting,” according to the Library. His grandchildren remembered the studio as “friendly and untidy, glass jam jars full of brushes, jars of turpentine and tubes of oil paints everywhere.” His beautiful painting of his cottage, which called “Teeton,” is part of the library’s collection. Curiously, the library notes that it was demolished in 1898.
Lockton gave away many of paintings, either to friends or to raise funds for the village as he was very involved in his Parish. Most of these were landscapes, on the small side and done on board as canvas was expensive. Therefore, a large still life such as this one would have been uncommon for this artist. He did exhibit a painting at Birmingham’s Royal Society of Artists in 1910.
In this fabulous example, Lockton created a stunning still life that is as sumptuous as it is beautiful. He chose to paint the roses mainly in full bloom; these he paired up with large and lush, deep purple and translucent green grapes. The ripe summer peaches add an interesting pale-yellow color to the composition.
As a backdrop, he chose a pewter plate and flagon to contrast the soft rubbed finish of the metal against the delicate nature of the flowers and fruit. The roses were placed in a copper bowl, again for contrast.
The dark background reflects the traditional type of still life that the artist had in mind. As with many of these traditional still lifes, Lockton placed everything on a stone ledge, upon which he signed it, “C.L. Lockton,” on the lower right. His entire composition and choice of objects, as well as his obvious skill, help establish the painting as one which can hold its own against even earlier still lifes. As noted, canvas was an expensive commodity, so I am sure he took his time in his studio in carefully creating this large work of art. This painting is nothing but gloriously romantic.
It is housed in a custom-made, Victorian reproduction wood and gesso frame that was hand-gilded. Its elegance matches that of the painting.
The painting is in excellent condition. I have had it professionally cleaned.
It measures 42 inches wide by 30 inches high, including the frame.
Still Life of Fruit and Flowers by C.L. Lockton
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