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Watercolour - Red House Farm, Sproughton, near Ipswich
  • Red House Farm, Sproughton, near Ipswich
    Reeve, Russell , born 1895 - died 1970
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Red House Farm, Sproughton, near Ipswich

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    Sproughton (painted)

  • Date:

    1932 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reeve, Russell , born 1895 - died 1970 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and watercolour drawing on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Pilgrim Trust

  • Museum number:

    E.2154-1949

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This watercolour of Red House Farm near Ipswich is one of the earliest works produced for the Recording Britain scheme. At the beginning, the project's purpose was to record sites vulnerable to encroaching urbanisation, rather than war damage, and this picture is no exception. The artist notes, on the back of the sheet, that while the painting is a faithful record of the farm's appearance in 1932, it had recently been sold and the adjoining land earmarked as the site of a housing estate by Ipswich council.

Physical description

A watercolour drawing showing a view of a farmyard from above. In the foreground a farmhand feeds pigs in their sty. A small herd of cattle stands by a pond. The landscape in the background is gently rolling, with large old trees.

Place of Origin

Sproughton (painted)

Date

1932 (painted)

Artist/maker

Reeve, Russell , born 1895 - died 1970 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and watercolour drawing on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Russell Reeve, 1932'
'Red House Farm, Sproughton'

Dimensions

Height: 11.125 in, Width: 14.625 in

Object history note

This is one of the earliest watercolours for the Recording Britain scheme.
This work is from the 'Recording Britain' collection of topographical watercolours and drawings 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

Red House Farm no longer exists; after the war, the land was sold to Ipswich city council and now contains a housing estate.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, 'Red House Farm, Sproughton, near Ipswich', by W. Russell Reeve. Recording Britain, Suffolk.

Materials

Pencil; Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted

Sproughton; Suffolk; Farms; Topographical views

Categories

Recording Britain Collection

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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