This is an atmospheric watercolor and gouache painting by Frederick William Nelson Whitehead (1853-1938) for sale. The artist was a prominent British oil painter, watercolorist, and etcher active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He studied at the Leamington School of Art and later trained at the Académie Julian in Paris under both Lefebvre and Boulanger. During his time in France, Whitehead traveled extensively around the countryside, including trips to Barbizon, and became a proponent of working en plein air, or out of doors.
After returning to England in 1870, Whitehead settled for a time in Dorset and there met Thomas Hardy, with whom he became lifelong friends. Whitehead began exhibiting at this time as well and became known for his British scenes, especially views of Warwickshire, Wessex, and Dorset. He was greatly influenced by Constable and liked to explore the changes in light and atmosphere in his works. In 1881, Whitehead exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy. He was subsequently was made an Associate Member of the Royal Academy and also became a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. Whitehead exhibited extensively with both organizations, as well as with prominent galleries in London, and his work is held today in numerous public and private collections, including the Leamington Art Museum. For more information about the artist, Wikipedia offers an excellent page of details.
This work is an expansive view of Poole Harbor in Dorset, which was a scene Whitehead captured many times from different vantage points. This work is signed lower right and also is dated 1914. The composition is excellent, with a compressed horizon beneath a dramatic sky visually linked by an arc of alighting seagulls. The touches of white gouache add visual interest and also help to create a sense of depth.
The framing dates to the 1980's and consists of a single mat under plexiglass and simple silver metal frame. There is some minor wear to both the frame and plexiglass commensurate with age, and the work would likely benefit from a more elaborate framing job. Still, the present one is certainly serviceable. The painting itself measures 9" x 14" sight size and 16.25" x 20.25" framed. The work was acquired directly from the artist's great-niece.
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