Pastoral signed 'CAYLEY ROBINSON' (lower right) tempera on board 40.5 x 47 cm. (16 x 18 1/2 in.)
Provenance: (probably) Lord Blanesburgh; Private collection, UK; thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited: Fine Art Society, 1970, no.68, from where purchased by the family of the present owner.
The present lot is presumably the work of the same dimensions exhibited with the Fine Art Society in 1977, no.64; and also exhibited there in 1969 (no.135), 1970 (no.68), and 1975 (no.18). (1)
The present lot is a version of a larger canvas (35 1/2 x 46 in.), which is in the collection of the Tate Gallery. The larger version, painted 1923-4, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1924 (no.111) and in the Late Members show, Winter 1928 (no.602), and reproduced in Royal Academy Illustrated, 1924, p.74. This larger work was a Chantrey Purchase for the Tate, acquired from the artist in 1924.
Born in Brentwood, Frederick Cayley Robinson was a versatile and experimental painter, whose body of work spans a variety of genres and mediums, from seascapes and domestic interiors, to illustrations and decorative designs. His work alludes to many influences, from the Italian Quattrocento and Fra Angelico, through to Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Robinson received his early training at the St. Johns Wood School of Art, and then at the Royal Academy Schools, before moving to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Académie Julian. Here, Robinson encountered perhaps the biggest single influence on his paintings, the works of the French symbolist painter, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
Robinson was exhibiting in the London Academies by 1877, and also held a teaching post as Professor of Figure Composition and Decoration at the Glasgow School of Art. His versatile output included set and costume design for the Haymarket Theatre, posters for the London, Midland and Scottish Railways, and illustrations for The Book of Genesis. The artist also worked in the difficult medium of tempera, and as a member of the Tempera Society came into contact with the artists of the Birmingham Group, such as Joseph Southall.
As J.H.Baron observes in his article on the artist contemporary critics enthused about [Robinsons] work, calling it visionary fantasy, noble, and interweaving the synthetic with the intimate. A major exhibition of the artists work was held at the Fine Art Society in London in 1977, which emphasised his quasi-archaic style, the symbolic allusions without clear cut messages, and his people- denizens of a silent, timeless world. (2)
(1)Fine Art Socierty, Frederick Cayley Robonson, exhibtion catalogue. (2)J.H.Baron, Frederick Cayley Robinsons Acts of Mercy murals at the Middlesex Hospital, London, BMJ, 1994 (taken from the BMJ online).