Explore Exeter's Collection of Modern Fine Art

Discover works by Brian Rice, Barbara Hepworth, Leighton Hall Woolatt, and more

63/11 (1962) by John WellsRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

This diverse selection features two works by the British abstract artist Brian Rice, which are shown for the first time, having been gifted to RAMM through Art Fund. Other works include Barbara Hepworth’s remarkable figurative drawing Preparation, Leighton Hall Woolatt’s Post Eleven Speaking and Patrick Heron’s Two Vermilions, Green and Purple in Red.

‘Post Eleven Speaking’ (1941/1942) by Leighton Hall WoolattRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

The painting shows the interior of post eleven, at No 15 St Leonard’s Road, Exeter. Central to the painting is a portrait of the head warden Mr Flood. Woolatt felt that it would be unfair to paint the portraits of the other wardens as they were transitory, so the figures of the other wardens are suggested and abstracted.

Hartland Quay, North Devon (1976) by Alan CottonRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

This work by Alan Cotton depicts the remains of the ancient quay and the bay with its spectacular cliffs. This former harbour which dates back to the time of Henry VIII is subject to some of the roughest winter seas.

Cotton’s use of impasto, high colour, and purity of pigment is evident in this work.

Military Exercise, Devonshire (1939/1945) by Henry LambRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Lamb served as a medical officer in the First World War, serving in France, Macedonia, and Palestine. During his service he was gassed. He was presented the Military Cross for his service. In World War 2 he served as an official war artist and produced many works of soldiers and military attaches. Following his marriage in 1906 he established himself as a professional portrait painter known for his sharply observant portraits of many influential artistic, political, and social figures of the time.

Two Vermilions, Green and Purple in Red (1965-03) by Patrick HeronRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Heron moved to St. Ives in the 1950s, however, his artistic career developed from earlier experiences as a designer in his father’s silk business and at Bernard Leach Pottery. Heron was also influenced artistically through his relationships with Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore. Heron’s visual practice varied throughout his career from striped vertical and horizontal compositions, linear still-lives, to his later compositions of simple forms which were contrasted through colour.

Storm Over Dartmoor (1960/1968) by Jack MerriottRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

A painter of both landscapes and portraits, Jack Merriot studied at Croydon School of Art and St Martins School of Art. He was also President of the Wapping Group of Artists from 1947 to 1960. In later life he moved from the Sussex to Polperro, Cornwall. He was a prolific illustrator and his published work included the Beautiful Britain series of books, the Pitman Guide to Watercolour, and posters for British Rail and the Post Office.

A Devonshire Valley, Number 1 (About, 1913) by Robert Polhill BevanRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Robert Bevan was a founder member of the Camden Town Group in 1911, which included among others, Walter Richard Sickert, Frederick Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Lucien Pissarro, Walter Bayes, and Charles Ginner. These London based artists were strongly influenced by Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cézanne with their strong use of decorative colour and realistic treatment of contemporary scenes.

Clayhidon (1913/1913) by Charles GinnerRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Although an occasional visitor to Applehayes, Charles Ginner was less attracted to Devon than Robert Bevan. He also became a member of the London Group and the Cumberland Market Group and served as an official war artist during the First World War. Typical of his style are the small touches of thick paint applied to the entire surface.

Boy in a Landscape: Portrait of Eric Verrico (1948) by John Minton (1917-1957)Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Eric Verrico was one of Minton’s students at Camberwell School of Art where he taught illustration from 1943-1946. Many students gathered around Minton, becoming known as ‘Johnny’s Circus’. Verrico frequently posed for Minton and was possessed of ‘astonishing good looks’. Of Italian extraction Verrico was conscripted into the RAF, changing his name to Verrier for fear of post war anti Italian feeling. Minton often preferred to depict his subjects seated and seen from a high vantage point.

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Walter Richard Sickert was a member of the Camden Town group. Unlike other members he achieved fame within his lifetime. Both a painter and a printmaker he was an important influence on British avant-garde art in the 20th century.

Apple Blossom, Riversbridge Farm, Blackpool (1921) by Lucien PissarroRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Although a founder member of the Camden Town Group, Pissarro did not visit Applehayes Farm. Instead, his interest in the Devon landscape was focused on Blackpool Vale four miles south west of Dartmouth. He travelled extensively in southern Britain in search of motifs but was particularly inspired by this location. He first visited the area in 1913, apparently to recover from illness, but returned in subsequent years, sometimes accompanied by J.B. Manson and his daughter Orovida Camille Pissarro. Pissarro was captivated by the topography of the secluded wooded combe and rural buildings scattered alongside the small stream. This setting has changed little and the artist’s compositions are easily recognisable.

Portrait of Des (Desmond Haughton) (1997) by Nahem ShoaRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Born in London, Nahem Shoa worked as a graffiti artist before studying at Manchester College of Art, and also trained under Robert Lenkiewicz. More recently he has exhibited at Hartlepool City Art Gallery, Coventry City Art Gallery, and Plymouth City Art Gallery.

His work frequently draws on current world affairs, in particular, natural and man-made disasters.

The artist recalled painting this portrait in London:
‘For me it was the most complete portrait I have ever painted in a single sitting. At the time I was painting many full length black portraits and nudes from life, which were paintings that involved numerous sittings and often taken up to one year to complete…I was investigating in oil paint all the nuances of colour that there are in all different types of black skin, not dissimilar to the way Lucien Freud or Euan Uglow both explored white skin. It may surprise people that when I painted black portraits I never used black or brown oil paint in my palette; in fact I have always used the same colours in my palette to paint both white and black people. Many of my black friends who posed for me many times over a ten year period felt that when they go to museums that the only images of black people are slaves or servants, which they all found very negative. I wanted to readdress this issue by getting my contemporary black portraits in collections of museums and art galleries across the British Isles, because I think it’s important for cultural institutions to reflect in positive and powerful way the diversity of our society today’.

Judith at Sixteen (1945) by Lawrence GowingRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

For Judith Holman, the sitter, this portrait had special significance because its timing. Whilst she posed for the artist, on 15th August, 1945, the news of the end of World War II was broadcast.

Bideford, devon-the Estuary of the Taw (1946/1946) by David BombergRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

David Bomberg is now widely acknowledged to be one of the most important British painters of the twentieth century but sadly he achieved recognition only after death. Not until 1967 was the first major exhibition of his work held at the Tate Gallery. Nevertheless, he enjoyed early success under the influence of the Cubist and Futurist movements but his experiences in the First World War changed his outlook. His later work became more representational and focused upon the landscape of Palestine, Cyprus, Spain, and Britain. After the Second World War Bomberg became a teacher, based at the Borough Polytechnic, London.

Wife of the Artist (1937) by Cecil CollinsRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

For Collins, the Anima was the embodiment of the compassionate female spirit whilst the Angel acted in the traditional role as a messenger able to travel between the earthly and the spiritual world.

Trio by Barbara HepworthRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Hepworth’s hospital drawings are very different to her abstract work as they are representational and contain a narrative. Many works from the series depict actual processes and successive stages of a process. Yet these works embody the essence of her artistic practice, which is concerned with the ideal of human co-operation and harmony.

The Castle (1918) by Thomas FriedensonRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Thomas Friedenson was born Joseph Friedenson. He later added the second name Thomas. He exhibited at the Royal Academy as Thomas Friedenson. However, he is better known as the Australian artist Joseph Friedenson, having lived there for many years since the end of WW1. He was the younger brother of Staithes Group artist, Arthur Friedenson.

John Lane (1921) by Ernest L. IpsenRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

The subject of the painting, John Lane (1854-1925) is best known as a publisher who was responsible for publishing the works of literary figures in the late Victorian period and early decades of the 20th century, under the imprint of the Bodley Head. One of the firm’s most famous production was The Yellow Book, an illustrated quarterly edited initially by Aubrey Beardsley, the English illustrator and author. In 1925 John Lane bequeathed to RAMM a large number of paintings, watercolours, and prints from his private collection. The artist Ernest L.Ipsen was a talented and versatile American portraitist who loved textures.

Brent Hill (1975/1980) by Kenneth FerneeRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Kenneth Fernee was a landscape painter and a teacher. He painted mainly in oil and focused much of his work on the Moorland landscapes and rocky seascapes of the Dartmoor terrain.

Still Life with pots (1961) by Jane BeesonRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Jane Beeson’s work from the 1960’s and 1970’s was produced on Dartmoor where she lived. During this time she was friends with the St Ives painters: Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, and Bryan Winter showing in the same exhibitions and galleries. Beeson due to the increasing isolation as a painter gradually stopped painting. In the 1970’s she attended Exeter University reading English and American Arts, before changing to a career in writing publishing plays, novels, and poetry.

Devon (1996) by Brian RiceRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Born in Yeovil, Brian studied at Yeovil School of Art and Goldsmith's College, London. During the 1960s he produced abstract paintings and prints influenced by the De Stijl group and European Constructivists of the 1920s and 30s. In the mid-1970s he moved to the West Country. More recently his works have explored the primitive essence of shape and colour, echoing his lifelong love of archaeology. Brian Rice has also pursued a successful career in teaching and was Chairman of the Printmakers Council of Great Britain from 1974 to 1977.

Dartmouth (1921) by James Bolivar MansonRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Manson’s work is characterised by small impasto touches of colour. Creating richly toned pleasing depictions of naturalistic objects and scenes. He also worked at the Tate Gallery for 25 years and served as its director from 1930-1938. He became a member of the Camden Town Group through his lifelong friendship with the impressionist painter Lucien Pissarro. Dedicated to the Impressionist technique his painting was more distanced in style than other members of the group.

Lemon and white spring '63 (1963) by Terry FrostRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Terry Frost painted this picture whilst living in Banbury. It is part of a series of works inspired by his regular journey to Reading where he taught. The use of the circle is a recurring motif and could represent traffic lights, headlamps, and road signs. In his earlier work Frost abstracts the natural form and in doing so raises it to the status of a sign or symbol. This later ‘heraldic’ work takes this idea further taking everyday signs and transforming them to purely abstract forms.

Landscape on a Bar (1964) by Alexander McNeishRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

A passionate painter, his work is known for its combination of vibrant colour and spontaneity of brush mark. McNeish studied painting at the Edinburgh College of art 1952-1957, upon leaving he quickly established himself as a leading Scottish artist. Like many Scottish artists he headed south securing a teaching position at Wolverhampton College of Art and then from 1965 as Head of painting at Exeter College of Art a position which he held for 15 years.

Big Basket, Pears and Shadow (1973) by Jack KnoxRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Jack Knox was born in Kirkintilloch in 1936 to parents who ran a tailoring business. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art graduating in the late 1950’s. He then spent a year at the Paris atelier of the French Cubist painter Andre L’hote. Both this training and his visit in 1959 to an exhibition of American Abstract Expressionism in Brussels allowed him to produce unique works that came to characterise an artistic style particular to Scotland.

63/11 (1962) by John WellsRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

John Wells was originally a doctor. His only formal artistic training came from classes held at St Martin’s school of Art and a brief time spent in 1928 with the artist Stanhope Forbes in Newlyn. During the war he worked as a doctor making the occasional visits to Barbara Hepworth and Ben and Winifred Nicholson in St Ives. Following the war with a new confidence in his recent work he decided to become a full time artist. Wells was a founder member of the Crypt Group, a splinter group of the St Ives Society of artists made up from artists who worked in a modern Abstract style. He was also a founder member of the Penwith Society of arts in Cornwall.

Lime Kiln and Foreshore (1948) by Judith AcklandRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Judith Ackland was born at Stowford House in Bideford, where her family practiced medicine for four generations from 1820-1963. She showed great ability in art from a young age and attended the town’s art school before going to London to study at the Regent Street Polytechnic. She was part of the generation of women that from 1914 were able to take advantage of professional training for the first time, becoming part of the main tradition of British painting.

Sailing at Exmouth (1960/1967) by Miles SharpRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Miles Sharp moved to Devon in 1952 and shortly afterwards extended his range to coastal scenes. Working mainly out of doors his work is characterised by a joyous feeling of air and space, and keenly observed effects of the weather. His direct style and loose handling of paint gives a real sense of movement and vitality.

Preparation (1947) by Barbara HepworthRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

This painting of a surgeon preparing for an operation is one of a series produced between 1948-49. The artist had become friends with Norman Capener, an orthopaedic surgeon based in Exeter, after one of her children had required an operation. He invited her to watch an operation and she was allowed to make drawings in operating theatres at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Exeter, the National Orthopaedic Hospital and the London Clinic. Preparation was probably produced in her studio from memory.

Reclining Nude (1906) by Walter Richard SickertRoyal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Grant took up painting due to the encouragement of the French painter Simon Bussy, going against his family’s wishes for him to have an army career. He trained at the Westminster school of Art in 1902 followed by training at La Palette in Paris from 1906-1907. He was a central figure of the Bloomsbury group and became a member of the Camden Town Group in 1911. Grant was influenced by the work of the Fauves and Cezanne which he saw in the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition held in 1910-1911.

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