August bank holiday, Gorleston signed 'C. A. Mellon' (lower right), oil on canvas, 51 x 61cm (20 x 24in).
Exhibited: Royal Academy 1924.
A plaque preserved to the rear reads: 'Campbell Archie Mellon/ 2 Upper Cliff Road/ Gorleston on Sea/ Title: Gorleston on Sea/ August Bank Holiday, Gorleston on Sea/ No. 2'.
Campbell Mellon East Anglia's L.S. Lowry had the first of 50 pictures accepted by the Royal Academy in 1924. The oil view was entitled August Bank Holiday, Gorleston on Sea. He was to paint that brilliant scene repeatedly, but the image shown here may be the best version of all. Born in Berkshire, and moving to Nottingham in 1903 to work as a travelling salesman, Archibald Campbell Mellon (1876-1955) determined on an artist's life in Norfolk after witnessing World War One horrors and following the migratory example of his painterly hero, John Alfred Arnesby Brown. His nickname of Melancholy Mellon reflected both the muddy palette of his early land-locked pictures and his memories of the trenches. With Arnesby Brown installed at Haddiscoe, Mellon moved to a house overlooking Gorleston harbour and for three years became the master's only known student. They were to remain life-long friends and to die within weeks of one another. But while Arnesby Brown was the painter-poet of the marshes rendering the cow every bit as magnificent as close contemporary Alfred Munnings did the horse - Mellon excelled in people-packed scenes on the beach below his studio. He captured the fleeting glories of the English seaside summer with ordinary humanity released from school, work, economic slump, war and rationing, for the delights of the day trip or, bliss of bliss, the escape of a summer fortnight in the boarding houses of Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft. Marvellous Mellon stressed a celebratory brightness by often painting directly into the sun lighting up his teeming cast beneath a sky possibly bearing the cumulus clouds that might rain on the paddlers and promenaders within minutes. He was the portraitist of passing pleasure.
Our thanks to Ian Collins for preparing this footnote, the present painting is further discussed in his book 'A Broad Canvas'. Ian Collins writes for the Eastern Daily Press. His new book - Water Marks: Art in East Anglia - is published by Black Dog Books.