Strang was a brilliant draughtsman, whose devotion to realism captured likenesses quite unsparingly: his pencil portraits, like those of Thomas Hardy, are all that one might expect. However, his delicate chalk and pencil portraits on tinted paper come as a complete surprise. Indeed, as the art historian Frank Newbolt said at the time, with his etchings in mind, they seemed "entirely foreign to the popular conception of Mr Strang's ideals" (47).
Strang was always experimenting, and this large and distinctive body of work came about because his initial forays into the medium won such acclaim that he was pressed to do more. In the end, as Newbolt says, "he was obliged to devote a great part of his time to producing this kind of portrait" (48). Newbolt adds, "It is not their colour or their prettiness which makes them important, but their fidelity to beauty, and the power which they show of fixing the evanescent. Ariel is chained" (49).
Newbolt, Frank. "The Art of William Strang, A.R.A." Art Journal (1910): 47-52.
Last modified 11 March 2015