Manchester Art Gallery is set to launch its new exhibition, Wynford Dewhurst: Manchester’s Monet, the first retrospective of the English impressionist painter and art theorist since his death in 1941.
The exhibition, which launches on 9 December 2016, running until 23 April 2017, will feature many of the controversial artist’s works on public display for the first time.
A contentious figure on the Anglo-French art scene at the turn of the twentieth century, Wynford Dewhurst is most famous for his 1908 work The Picnic, in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. He was born in Manchester in 1864 and began his career studying law. He moved to Paris at the relatively advanced age of 27 to train as an artist, returning to France throughout his life to paint in the valleys of the Seine and the Creuse in the style of Claude Monet, who became his principal mentor. This exhibition brings together a large selection of Dewhurst’s shimmering paintings with contextual material to reintroduce the painter to his native city.
Dewhurst’s pictures take their cue from Monet, but they surpass the efforts of an acolyte. His vision is of a glowing, dense ether from which cliffs and castles emerge solidly, glowing as if lit from within. Although from Manchester, Dewhurst’s affinity was with French landscape and the bright light of the continent. His views have the archetypal Impressionist quality of appearing in the gallery like windows on to a sunlit world, the purple hills warm and inviting in the distance.
Dewhurst was an art theorist as well as a painter and his 1904 book Impressionist Painting, Its Genesis and Development was the first important British study of Impressionism. The book became notorious for Dewhurst’s insistence that the English landscape tradition, especially the work of John Constable and J. M. W. Turner, was at the root of modern French painting. Dewhurst’s thesis was that, ‘the French artists simply developed a style which was British in its conception.’
The exhibition has been curated by Roger Brown, who puts the two works by Dewhurst already in Manchester Art Gallery’s collection into context with loans of other pieces from private collections. The works range from his student days through to post World War One paintings.
A fully illustrated book authored by Brown will be published by Sansom & Company to accompany the exhibition. It will be the first monograph to be written on this influential artist and writer.
Wynford Dewhurst: Manchester’s Monet is exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery from 9 December 2016 until 23 April 2017.