Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tempera Harry R Mileham


Tempera, when oil was ‘invented’

I have posted up a couple of images for you. The first, Vintage Harvest is from the 1995 100th anniversary exhibition brochure held at Leighton House in London. It was a sketch submitted for a competition for a decoration in a public building in 1894 whilst Harry R Mileham was at the Royal Academy Schools.

The other three pictures are of a painting discovered recently behind a portrait of my grandmother. The scruffy frame was to be cleaned up! It is just an intelligent guess that this is part of the same project and includes a ‘blank’ fireplace which suggests that this was a mural design.

I love the texture of tempera, it has perhaps a less vibrant look but often a pastel feel is attractive in its own right. With limited time and equipment I have tried to match the colours to the original.

They are only ‘snap shots’ as we are to do an exhibition in Brighton where he lived for the second half of his life, in September. Better pictures and a full brochure will be available on line for that.

I hope to be better informed by then!

He died in 1957 so all his works are still in copyright.

Perhaps influenced by Leighton just a little! (oil)

Thank you to Christies for this last picture

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, Robert. I see your grandfather was very competent.
In the top picture the design is very well conceived for that space--everyone stooped but in a natural way. The figures on the left, about to dump their grapes (?) into the bin in succession as it were, give a nice dynamism to the picture. The two women in the foreground are very pretty and their poses are also very natural, though the one on the right has a too-heavy load in her apron. Both their turned heads lead the eye to the center of the picture.

Your grandfather has a tendency to elongate the arm from the shoulder to the elbow, doesn't he? It is so constant a distortion it must be a style of his.

Those are nice colors in the other paintings too and I agree with you about the texture of tempera. This looks very thickly applied. I stopped working with that medium because after I had worked long on a painting, the egg lifted up suddenly and curled.I didn't want to risk another one like that.

Again one sees your grandfather's strength as a designer. The bulk of cloth the three graces are holding and the bright white of their dresses lift the eye right to the top and center of the hemisphere, while the two filler figures at the bottom give subtle ballast.

The angel above the fireplace in the last picture is clearly designed to be seen from below. Look at the inclination of those pots.

8:51 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

Thanks 100swallows and welcome. I think it may be hops not grapes which would make the apron viable! Arms, I know what you mean but we have been here before! I joke of course but I like thin arms and you thicken them up a bit! Perhaps it's a family trait of ours! The last picture is a rare intrior design of ‘Leighton’.

2:05 pm  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

How delicious to find a new work by your grandfather! I've often found an extra piece stacked up in an old frame, but nothing of that calibre: I wish.

Hops would certainly be bulky but not as heavy. I have some growing on a little gazebo in the backyard, as this was once a hop-growing region. That bundle is very smooth, which again does not particularly suggest grapes.

I take it that Harry Mileham was influenced by people like Leighton and Alma-Tadema? He certainly hewed close to tradition rather that leaping off into the abyss of modernism. I expect that means nothing but good for his work now that the older academic painters are being restored to a higher place. Is that something you see happening?

2:17 pm  

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