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Watercolour - Wiverton Church, from Clay; Recording Britain
  • Wiverton Church, from Clay
    Hardie, born 1875 - died 1952
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Wiverton Church, from Clay; Recording Britain

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    Wiverton, United Kingdom (painted)

  • Date:

    1936 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hardie, born 1875 - died 1952 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour painting on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Pilgrim Trust

  • Museum number:

    E.1927-1949

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RB, shelf 21

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Martin Hardie, best remembered as a curator in the V&A's Prints & Drawings Department, was also a respected watercolourist who contributed steadily to the Recording Britain scheme. This view of Wiveton church from across a water meadow betrays his debts to Constable, particularly in his portrayal of the scudding clouds.

Wiveton church dates from 1437. Built in the Perpendicular style, its size and beauty testify to Wiveton's wealth and high standing as a port in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Physical description

A watercolour drawing of Wiverton church viewed from a distance, across a water meadow under scudding clouds.

Place of Origin

Wiverton, United Kingdom (painted)

Date

1936 (painted)

Artist/maker

Hardie, born 1875 - died 1952 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour painting on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Martin Hardie'

Dimensions

Height: 11.375 in, Width: 15.25 in

Object history note

Martin Hardie's debt to Constable's cloud studies is apparent in the depiction of clouds racing across the sky. This is one of the earliest Recording Britain watercolours, dating from 1936.

The 'Recording Britain' collection of topographical watercolours and drawings was made in the early 1940s during the Second World War. In 1940 the Committee for the Employment of Artists in Wartime, part of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, launched a scheme to employ artists to record the home front in Britain, funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. It ran until 1943 and some of the country's finest watercolour painters, such as John Piper, Sir William Russell Flint and Rowland Hilder, were commissioned to make paintings and drawings of buildings, scenes, and places which captured a sense of national identity. Their subjects were typically English: market towns and villages, churches and country estates, rural landscapes and industries, rivers and wild places, monuments and ruins. Northern Ireland was not covered, only four Welsh counties were included, and a separate scheme ran in Scotland.

The scheme was known as 'Recording the changing face of Britain' and was established by Sir Kenneth Clark, then the director of the National Gallery. It ran alongside the official War Artists' Scheme, which he also initiated. Clark was inspired by several motives: at the outbreak of war in 1939, there was a concern to document the British landscape in the face of the imminent threat of bomb damage, invasion, and loss caused by the operations of war. This was allied to an anxiety about changes to the landscape already underway, such as the rapid growth of cities, road building and housing developments, the decline of rural ways of life and industries, and new agricultural practices, which together contributed to the idea of a 'vanishing Britain'. Clark also wanted to help artists, and the traditional forms of British art such as watercolour painting, to survive during the uncertain conditions of wartime. He in turn was inspired by America's Federal Arts Project which was designed to give artists employment during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Over 1500 works were eventually produced by 97 artists, of whom 63 were specially commissioned. At the time the collection had a propaganda role, intended to boost national morale by celebrating Britain's landscapes and heritage. Three exhibitions were held during the war at the National Gallery, and pictures from the collection were sent on touring exhibitions and to galleries all around the country. After the war, the whole collection was given to the V&A by the Pilgrim Trust in 1949, and it was documented in a four volume catalogue published between 1946 and 1949. For many years the majority of the collection was on loan to councils and record offices in each county, until recalled by the V&A around 1990. The pictures now form a memorial to the war effort, and a unique record of their time.

Historical context note

Wiveton church dates from 1437 and is built entirely in the Perpendicular style. Its size and beauty are reminders of Wiveton's former status as a bustling port in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, 'Wiveton Church, from Clay', by Martin Hardie (Recording Britain, Norfolk).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of Drawings in the ‘Recording Britain’ Collection given by the Pilgrim Trust to the Victoria and Albert Museum published by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Prints, Drawings and Paintings Department, 1951.
The full text of the entry is as follows:
'NORFOLK
[…]
HARDIE, Martin, C.B.E., R.E.
[…]

Wiveton Church, from Clay (1936).
Signed Martin Hardie.
Water-colour (11 3/8 x 15 1/4)

E.1927-1949'
Palmer, Arnold, ed. Recording Britain. London: Oxford University Press, 1946-49. Vol 2: Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, Northhamptonshire and Rutlandshire, Norfolk, Yorkshire. Introduction to Norfolk, p.145.

Materials

Paper; Watercolour

Techniques

Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted

Topographical views; Churches; Norfolk; Meadows; Wiveton

Categories

Paintings; Recording Britain Collection

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O120688
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