RARE: George Wallis sketch – Farmer Cutting Heather with Scythe, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire (1882)
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Farmer Cutting Heather, Cannock Chase, George Wallis – pencil and chalk on paper (code AF10-321002)
A rare Wallis sketch of farmer cutting heather in Staffordshire. Inscribed bottom right, 'burning yellow and brown heather', and dated September, 1882.
George Wallis (1811-1891) was a pioneer who influenced the work of William Morris and others in blending art, nature and commerce to help connect consumers to the outdoors.
Morris told Wallis's son after his death in 1891: "[Your father] sowed the seeds from which, later on, many thousands have culled the flowers".
The sketch features a farmer with scythe cutting back heather, ready for burning close to Wallis' home town of Wolverhampton.
George Wallis FSA (1811–1891) was an artistic genius who helped blend art and design to refine some of the 19th century’s most important scientific innovations. He used nature in his early years to identify connections to improving aesthetics in production and manufacture of goods ranging from rifles to wallpaper. This link between art and "production" was connected to his wider mission to make art more readily available to public, either by new printing techniques or teaching people (not just college students) how to paint and draw.
He received several medals from Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Louis-Napoleon of France for his work. He taught drawing and painting even as a child, and continued to help others all his life, both formally and informally. His principle interest was the blending of art education with industrial art, especially in fabric, publishing and pottery designs. The purpose of his work was to find a way of retaining the beauty and joy of a unique design whatever the number of repetitions. He said:“It is the complete fact of the work itself with which we have to deal, not whether a man pottered for a month over a piece of work with a hammer and chisel or struck it out at a blow with a die and press."
He was at odds with John Ruskin for most of his life, who rejected ideas of machine reproductions having artistic merit.
He was senior keeper of art at South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria & Albert Museum) for 30 years, and a headmaster at numerous English design schools. He taught the connexion between the principles of decorative art, design and people’s daily lives, pre-dating a similar ethos pioneered by Steve Jobs, and Apple, in the 1980s. He wrote numerous essays and lectures on industrial art and design. Most of these focused on 'the power' of sketching quickly from nature for inspiration when engaged in applying principles of utility and art in design.
Wallis was commissioned by British and US governments to investigate design in the manufacture of internationally important products, including rifles and tools.
He was sent by government to the 1853 New York International Exhibition to study the development of art and manufacturing in America.
His drawing, painting and etching are held in collections of Victoria & Albert Museum, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
In 1919, a retrospective exhibition of Wallis's work was held. William Morris told Wallis's son in his speech at the opening that his father was one of the key figures of the English school art movement. He said: "Your father has led a long and useful life. He sowed the seeds from which, later on, many thousands have culled the flowers".
Also included with this purchase is information about The Stephen Neale Art Collection, from which the watercolour is taken, a certificate of authenticity, and a biograpy of George Wallis.
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR SOMEONE SPECIAL
Signed: Bottom right
Inscribed: Bottom right, 'burning yellow and brown heather'
Height: 36cm (14″)Width: 27cm (10″)
Condition: Dirty marks, bumps and small tears to the edges