Near Margate - Evening

Across Shipload Bay to Lundy Island, North Devon. Oil on canvas, 12.25 x 18 inches. signed and dated 1859. Courtesy of the Maas Gallery. Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary by the Maas Gallery

In the summer of 1857 Moore made his first prolonged stay at Clovelly on the North Devon coast. Either then or the next year he painted this careful study of the view west across Shipload Bay to Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel off Hartand Point. ‘These visits to Clovelly’, wrote his biographer Frank Maclean, ‘are associated with a very important epoch in his career; for in the little Devonshire hamlet, as it then was, he renewed and furthered his acquaintance with the sea and if one can judge by his diary viewed it with fresh fascination and delight’. In this diary, Moore wrote poetic ‘pen pictures’ describing the sea and sky: ‘The sea is like a sheet of burnished silver with a few shadows on it. The houses and hill almost black... but an extraordinary amount of luminous atmosphere. The sky is fine - decided rolling rain filled cumuli - but the light is so intense as to make it and the distance and the water almost one’. As Frank Maclean put it, ‘In these brief scrawled pencil notes there is the courage of an impressionist. Small wonder then that we find him complaining of having to return to “the niggling foreground” of a landscape he was engaged upon. The glories of sky and sea were calling out to his imagination, were opening up the prospect of a new and bigger world, and the soul within him craved vaguely to express in paint what had hitherto lain beyond his horizon’. We can see his debt to Ruskin in the detailed foreground of this painting; that summer, Moore rose at five and worked out-of-doors all day from nature. In contrast, a premonition of the impressionistic work of his maturity can be seen in his free and exuberant handling of the sea and the sky.

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Created 19 May 2018