19th century Oil on canvas – “The Old Watermill” by Thomas Thomas
“The Old Watermill” by Thomas Thomas, Oil on canvas in a good gilt frame.
Thomas Thomas was a Midlands born painter of rural landscapes from Smethwick in Staffordshire. He spent his working life touring the local English and Welsh countryside, painting wood-lined fields and farmsteads, in the traditional English manner. His favoured haunts were Midlands views and North Wales scenes, nearly always with buildings present. North Wales was an area which the newly wealthy Birmingham public were discovering through the railways. They wanted paintings of these views and also the local scenery that reminded them of their rustic roots as we became an increasingly urbanised society. Thomas established himself in the Birmingham market with 26 works shown at the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists between 1854-1896.
This charming scene is a good example of his work, the compositional style featuring figures subordinate to the buildings and landscape, which derives from the Norwich school of painters such as James Stark and John Crome. The balance of composition with his warm green and brown tones, and fine brushwork, produce pleasing rustic settings typical of 19th century Britain.
Pictures by Thomas have become increasingly collectable over the years, and can be found in many good collections including at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (“Kings Norton Church” and “Harborne Railway Line”) and the New Walsall Art Gallery (“Handsworth Church”). His pictures have social historical significance with his portrayals of early railways, old manor houses and rustic churches, which are now absorbed into built-up Birmingham.
Refs: S&K Morris – West Midlands painters of the 19th century. Johnson & Greutzner – British Artists 1880-1940. Art UK
Dimensions: Frame: (w) 32.5 ins (83 cm) x (h) 36 ins ( 91cm) x (d) 2 ins (5cm)
Stock No: 988/2020/QSA
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