Artsmith: Anthony on piecing together a Norfolk art jigsaw
How a chance discovery has brought a county artist’s name back into the limelight
You may remember a while back I was discussing the importance of and stimulation for those of us involved in fine art when we are faced with questions or issues concerning attribution.
At the time, I had highlighted a work that I had purchased many years ago, a Balinese temple scene at night whose creator I hadn’t been able to accurately attribute the work to. Well, sadly, I am still in the same situation, but recently a discovery, very close to home has highlighted the simple joy and satisfaction of being able to identify an artist whose works were unsigned, unattributed or incorrectly attributed.
This discovery and yes, it IS a discovery, occurred during the research for and selection of works for the exhibition Drawn to the Coast: Turner, Constable, Cotman at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth.
As always happens with discoveries, it was completely unexpected and this one is due to the keen eye of Liz Ward, who has given her time for the last five years as a volunteer cataloguer of the museum’s art collection, previously working as a local studies librarian in
Liz, whilst working in the Works on Paper collection, as part of the Community Curator volunteers, noticed as she was digitalising each individual item that there had been errors made in the 1960s in regard to attribution. Works that had previously been attributed to other artists were in fact works by the acclaimed Norfolk artist Joseph Stannard (1797 – 1830), a prominent member of the Norwich School.
As Liz said “I had removed the mount on a work to photograph it and saw Stannard’s name in the corner. I was curious to know more about it, especially with the upcoming Drawn to the Coast exhibition and decided to check its record.
“It was then that I noticed that the artwork had not been assigned or attributed to an artist in its original entry”.
Stannard’s short life belies his contribution to the art of our region. At 14 he exhibited a work with the Norwich Society of Artists (1811) and throughout his life, produced works of quality and originality, even though he was highly influenced by Dutch artists.
He produced numerous etchings, some now re-attributed to him by Liz’s recent discovery. These works are often quite intimate landscapes, gentle in their overall feel, with couples, or figures, walking in the woods or along a forest path or a lone fisherman in his punt sheltering from the summer sun under the branches of trees along the river bank. They are images that also tell us about our history and that of our county.
But not all of Joseph Stannard’s works were on a small scale. To fully appreciate the quality of his work, look no further than Thorpe Water Frolic, Afternoon in the Norfolk Museums’ collection. Simply superb; a masterwork.
So why is attribution important? It’s the satisfaction of placing the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle together and getting the final picture and it gives the artist his/her dues. Its simply righting a wrong, an unintentional wrong and that is as it should be. “Drawn to the Coast: Turner, Constable and Cotman” (and Stannard!) at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth ends on September 9. In two words: see it!
What’s on in September?
First, please do try to catch the exhibition featured above.
Also, at Mandell’s Gallery, Anthony George’s exhibition opens on September 8. Anthony’s silkscreens are inspired by his manual work at the British Antarctic Survey and although our initial reaction is that they are abstract, they are in fact minimalist landscapes of the Antarctic. Magic. email@example.com
ABOVE:Liz Ward and Nicole Hudson studying the Stannards