I’ve personally traveled to the county of Essex in England, where this artist lived and painted most of his life, several times. I am sure that Essex has its charms, but in my visits I didn’t see much evidence of them. However, I am glad that Octavius Thomas Clark (1850-1921), of whom it is said never desired to leave it, created a record of the area as he saw it. In his paintings we see what my friends in the Deep South would call, “the pretties.”
While no two of Clark’s paintings are exactly the same, he did use the one formula over and over again in his creations. Nearly each one features a perfect blue and white sky, a quintessential English romantic cottage surrounded by trees, a figure walking on a quiet country lane nearby, and a pond or stream with perhaps a swan or two on the opposite side. Who wouldn’t want to display such a pretty and charming painting? That is what made his works so sought-after even in his own time.
We can guess that one of the reasons Clark never exhibited is that he was such a stay-at-home. But between creating a prodigious amount of paintings as well as thirteen children, he no doubt had little time to do so. More and more information about the artist is surfacing, and he is listed in Jeremy Wood’s reference, “Hidden Talents: A Dictionary of Neglected Artists Working 1880-1950.” An illustration of one of his works, with a stream and path between two cottages, can be found on page 70.
Although Clark was known for his country cottage formula, this one has beehives set on stools to distinguish it. There is a pleasant series of ponds that start in the background and continue into the foreground. His cottage is situated snugly between the larger trees and the shrubs, climbing roses and flowers in the front. He does not disappoint with this portrait of a quiet and perfect summer day in the countryside. It is signed in the lower-left corner.
I have had this piece professionally restored and custom-framed. It is in a traditional swept frame with piercings of wood and gesso, then gilded all over. This traditional English frame suits this landscape well.
I can’t imagine any place in your home that would not benefit from this delightful and picturesque summer landscape.
It measures 26-1/2 inches wide by 20-1/2 inches high, including the frame.
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