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Hopgarden

  • Object:

    Watercolour

  • Place of origin:

    Kent (made)

  • Date:

    1957 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reynolds, Alan Munro, born 1926 - died 2014 (Artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Greta Hyde

  • Museum number:

    E.209-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 71, box C

Alan Reynolds began his career as a landscape painter and was regarded as the leading artist of late Neo-Romanticism. This view of a Kentish hopgarden shows the influence of Paul Nash, with the empty hop frames jutting up in the mid-ground echoing the broken trees of Nash’s WWI time landscapes. Despite his critical and commercial success, Reynolds became increasingly preoccupied with the formal and structural elements of composition. By the end of the 1960s, he began to move away from figurative landscape painting towards abstraction, inspired by German avant-garde artists such as Paul Klee.

Place of Origin

Kent (made)

Date

1957 (made)

Artist/maker

Reynolds, Alan Munro, born 1926 - died 2014 (Artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on paper

Dimensions

Height: 254 mm, Width: 355 mm

Object history note

Given by the artist to his parents, 1957; thence by decscent to Mrs Greta Hyde, the artist's sister-in-law; gited to the Museum in 2017.

Historical context note

Alan Reynolds was born Newmarket, Suffolk, where his father worked as a stableman. He served on the front line in 1944-5 and was in Germany at the end of WWII. He was sent to Göttingen University to train as a teacher, taking art as his subsidiary subject, and then to Hanover as an army master at the Forces Study Centre. The year he spent there was of formative importance. Until 1933 Hanover had been a prominent centre of avant-garde art and there Reynolds was exposed to the work of Die Brücke and the Blaue Reiter artists, as well as that of abstract-concretists including Kurt Schwitters and Carl Buchheister. Crucially, he saw first-hand the paintings of Paul Klee and Mondrian, who were to have a lasting impact on his art.

Returning from Germany in 1947 with an ex-service grant, Reynolds attended Woolwich Polytechnic School of Art from 1948 to 1952. In 1952, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, but left after only a year. By this time he had already exhibited at the Redfern Gallery and one of his paintings had been acquired by the Arts Council.

During the 1950s, Reynolds painted landscapes in watercolour and oils of the Kentish countryside. Making little more than visual notes on his frequent trips to Kent, Reynolds would construct his landscapes in the studio. He had learned this practice while in Hanover. However, his landscapes of the late 1950s, including Hopgarden were influenced primarily by Samuel Palmer and the British Neo-Romanticism of Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. Nash was particularly influential during this period, and the empty hop frames in this painting echo the broken trees of Nash’s war time landscapes such as ‘Sunrise, Inverness Copse’ (1917, Imperial War Museum). In this early period of his career, Reynolds’ frequently made multiple versions and variations of the same composition. The V&A holds two versions of the composition, both painted in 1957.

Reynolds landscapes saw him hailed as the ‘the golden boy’ of late Neo-Romanticism and he enjoyed critical acclaim and commercial success. However his first-hand encounter with the work of the German avant-garde, in particular that of Paul Klee, encouraged a preoccupation with the formal and structural elements of composition. By the end of the 1960s, Reynolds was moving away from figurative landscape painting towards the abstraction which would characterise his later output.

Descriptive line

Watercolour, Hopgarden, by Alan Munro Reynolds, watercolour on paper, British, 1957

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

Harrison, M., Alan Reynolds: The Making of a Concretist Artist; Farnham, 2011.

Materials

Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Watercolour

Categories

Paintings

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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