… a moment of vision …
“We look, in landscape painting, not primarily for a rationalised statement, nor for a description of fact but for the moment of vision,” wrote Thomas Hennell.
Sometimes referred as an English Van Gogh, Thomas Hennell was deeply religious and suffered a breakdown which put him in a mental institution for a couple of years. Writing and watercolours helped him recover. His work records rural scenes, often populated with craftsmen and Thomas eventually became an Official War Artist in World War II. Whilst in Indonesia in 1945, he was captured by nationalist fighters in and presumably killed.
He was lionised by contemporaries: “We [Bawden and Ravilious] regarded him as a man
This scene is probably at Ridley in Kent, close to Orchard Cottage, where Hennell lived between 1935-43. Knowing his story, it is impossible to un-know it and this wonderfully delicate sketch of the British Countryside takes on a fragile and elegiac intensity.
Most of the information in this post has been gleaned from the lovely little tribute website created by art dealer, Michael Sims, thomashennell.com
Breezy Day, Ridley, Kent, c.1941, by Thomas Hennell, (1903-45) (Whereabouts unknown; image from Michael Sims simfineart.com)
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