Cornish Harbour signed and dated 'FEILER '52' (lower left); further signed and inscribed 'PAUL FEILER/CORNISH HARBOUR' (verso) oil on canvas 32.8 x 48.2 cm. (13 x 19 in.)
PROVENANCE: With The Redfern Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner's father in the 1950s
Cornish Harbour is consistent with Feiler's work from the early 1950s. The palette, of slate grey, black, brilliant white, and yellow is one that he explored exhaustively during the first two years of the decade; a time when the artist had begun to experiment with abstraction in landscape.
The subject matter of the present work, moored boats in a harbour setting was his favoured vehicle for expressing his new mature phase, widely regarded by many to be Feiler's most successful period. The Seawall executed in 1951 (see Christie's South Kensington sale, 4 December 2002) and Porthcurno Beach (see Bonhams sale, 28 March 2006), painted the same year as Cornish Harbour both employ dinghy's as their focal point. There is an emphasis in all of these works on thick, broadly applied brush strokes and the contrast between the man-made and organic; the harbour walls are treated in a structured, geometric fashion whereas the water is handled in a more fluid and painterly manner. With the use of the white Feiler has clearly squeezed the paint directly out of the tube onto the canvas in an expression of confidence and spontaneity, a technique also employed by his Slade contemporary Patrick Heron.
The majority of works from this period, made prior to Feiler settling permanently in Cornwall, were made with Feiler's first one-man exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in mind in 1953. It proved so successful another four successive exhibitions followed, which allowed the artist to buy the chapel at Kerris, in West Penwith, where he still works today.