Norman Wilkinson CBE, PRI (British 1878-1971), "Miming a Cast", Oil on Canvas Board, signed lower left, 59.5 x 44.5cm (23.5 x 17.5in) sight (visible painting) size (76 x 61cm (30 x 24in) frame size).
Wilkinson's fishing paintings are always a joy for anyone who understands the pleasures of trout or salmon fishing. Often avoiding the clichéd subject of the angler on a river bank, he would pick something with which others could readily identify, such as this - two anglers in a rowing boat seeing a fish jump, one miming a cast or a strike. Which of us hasn't done the same?
CONDITION: Generally good, ready to hang condition. a few tiny flakes at the lower edge, left of centre. The frame is very slightly worn, one tiny flake in the gilt surface and some areas of rubbing. The lower textile lining is slightly dusty and worn but all is appropriate to the age of the painting.
BIOGRAPHY: Norman Wilkinson CBE, PRI (1878-1971) was known for Oils, Watercolours and drypoints. His subjects were mainly marine and landscapes, particularly river, pool and fishing scenes. He was also an illustrator of books and posters; and was awarded the CBE in 1948 for his works as a camoufleur (painter of camouflage) in WW1 and WW2.
He was born in Cambridge on 24 November 1878 to a musician father. Norman Wilkinson was initially marked for a musical career, and between the ages of 8-14 was a chorister with St Paul's Cathedral, London. His passion and talent for art, however, took focus at Berkhamstead School in Hertfordshire. His training continued at Portsmouth Art School, where he was to develop his love of the sea and of sailing. He further attended the Cornwall and Southsea Schools of Art, where he also taught. At the age of 21, he studied figure painting at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris.
Wilkinson's career began as an illustrator in London, with works appearing between 1896-1915 in The Illustrated London News. (he also illustrated books by Kipling.) As early as 1906, he was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, where he was later in his life (1936-63) to become President. In 1919, Wilkinson was made Honourable Marine Painter to the Royal Yacht Squadron, becoming commissioned by various naval companies for ship portraits over his many years. The 1920s saw his work as a poster artist come in to its own, including productions for the London & North Western and London, Midland & Scottish Railways.
Wilkinson's artistic abilities had over this period did more than enrich lives, they undoubtedly also saved many. During the First World War of 1914-18, he saw service as an Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander on submarine patrols in the Dardenelles, Gallipoli and Gibraltar. Alarmed at the rate of German U-boat torpedo strikes on Allied shipping, Wilkinson devised what he termed "Dazzle Painting" as a means of camouflaging shipping movement. Based on Cubist principles, this involved painting ships with black and white lines at sharp angles which had the effect of breaking-up their form, confusing onlookers as to their course and hence making difficult the aim of enemy fire. This `dazzle camouflage' became used on several thousand UK and US naval vessels. During the Second World War, Wilkinson was again employed to design camouflage, this time by the British Air Ministry for the concealment of airfields.
As well as membership to the institutions named above, Wilkinson was, over the course of his ninety-two plus years, also a member of: the Royal Society of British Artists; the Royal Institute of Oil Painters: the Royal Society of Marine Artists; and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours. He had Exhibits and Collections at: the Fine Art Society, London; Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; the Walker Gallery, Liverpool; the Royal Birmingham Society of Arts; the Beaux Arts Gallery, London; the Royal Academy; the Royal Society of British Artists; the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours; and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Wilkinson also gifted a series of 54 paintings to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. However, one painting which is known no longer to exist for posterity is that of "Plymouth Harbour". This was commissioned for the Smoking Room aboard the RMS Titanic.
Norman Wilkinson died on 31 May 1971.
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