It is always a pleasure to be able to present a painting that can be counted among the artist's best. In the 1930s and early 1940s, Raymond Coxon (1896-1997) painted a series of works depicting villages and hamlets in Yorkshire: Swaledale villages such as Linton, Muker, Crackpot Hill and Gunnerside, Hebden Bridge. You will find them on ArtUK - there are now in the collections of the Manchester Art Gallery, the Leeds Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum %26 Art Gallery in the artist's birth town, Stoke on Trent; Salford Museum, Bristol Museum, The National Museum of Wales.
The painting presented here, depicting the village of Starbotton, is part of this series. It belonged to Sir Michael Ernest Sadler, the historian, reformer of secondary education and noted collector and promoter of modern art in Britain.Sadler began collecting art around 1892. His collection included works by Paul Gauguin, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Rouault . He was also a champion of British vanguard artists and collected the work of Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, C. R. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, among others. It is clear that Sadler chose only the most exquisite of paintings, and our Coxon most certainly deserved a place in his collection..
In the Yorkshire series, the artist focussed on the colour of the Yorkshire stone, and its juxtaposition with the "green velvet hills". He looked at the traditional village architecture with fresh eyes, and this is particularly noticeable in the present work - just look at the novel perspective created by the houses on each side of the canvas. Coxon had studied at Leeds College of Art from 1919 to 1921, where he met and became great friends with Henry Moore. In 1922 Coxon and Moore made their first visit to France and met Maillol and Bonnard.
After Leeds, Coxon went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London (1921-25), under Sir William Rothenstein.
In 1927 Raymond and his wife Gin, with Henry Moore and Leon Underwood formed the short-lived British Independent Society. His first one-man exhibition took place the following year with the London Artists Association at the Cooling Galleries. He became a member of the London Group in 1931 and some of his paintings were bought by the Contemporary Art Society. Coxon had his first exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in 1936, and further one- man shows at the Leicester Galleries in 1940, 1947 and 1960. Sir Michael Sadler was a regular customer at the Leicester Galleries, and ils likely to have acquired "Starbotton" there. An extensive portion of Sadlers collection, 287 objects in total, were exhibited and sold soon after his death by the Leicester Galleries (JanuaryFebruary and March 1944). Our painting changed ownership there. Labels from this exhibition, as well as from Sadler, are located on the stretcher. Measuring 46 x 55 cm, the oil on canvas is still presented in its original, hand carved frame. The overall framed size is 57 x 66 cm.
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