Unsung watercolour hero brings his wares to auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 23rd November, 2017

Mossgreen’s fine art auction from 6.30pm Monday November 27 at 926-930 High Street, Armadale features works by British painter David Thomas Rose (1871-1964) – an unsung hero of watercolour painting.

A civil engineer by profession, in 1904 and 1907 Rose made two of the most influential journeys of his artistic life.

The first was a post in the Harbour of Valetta, Malta. On his way there, he sailed through the Mediterranean Sea, calling in at Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The impact and appeal of the North African environment was so great, it left a lasting impression on his imagination and memories – images he was able to recall for the rest of his life.

Although his art never wholly supported Rose, he was not a pure dilettante – and at the end of the 19th century took night classes at the Glasgow School of Art where he honed his draughtsmanship skills and developed a fine sense for composition and colour balance.

So successful was he that, throughout his long life and following his death, his pictures were exhibited at the Royal Academy of London, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Art Club at Brighton and Hove Museum in Brighton.

According to Mossgreen art specialist Petrit Abazi, despite painting many British and continental scenes Rose’s North African watercolours are the most noteworthy images he produced.

“The crisp application of water pigments on paper gives his best works a sparkle and brilliance that capture the limpid atmosphere of the southern Mediterranean air,” he says.

“Of modest dimensions, these views of bustling streets, richly packed souls and peaceful intimate groups capture the daily routines and vistas of their place.”

The 18 David Rose auction paintings are from a private United Kingdom collection. 

The remainder of the auction features works by well-known Australian artists such as Harold Herbert, Walter Withers, S.T. Gill, J.H. Scheltema and Janet Cumbrae-Stewart.

Other artists to feature are household names and include David and Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, John Perceval, Sidney Nolan, William Dobell, Pro Hart and Clifton Pugh.

Some of the more impressive works include Richard Larter’s Loose Shift and Garry Shead’s The Sacrifice, 2009.

The catalogue, entitled International Decorative Arts & Fine Arts, covers four sessions – fine art (lots 1-138) Monday November 27, international decorative arts (lots 139-635) and fine Chinese and Asian art (lots 636-813) Tuesday November 28, international decorative arts part II online (lots 814-969) Wednesday November 29. 

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