Anna Airy (1882 - 1964)
One of the most celebrated female artists of her generation and one of the first ever female war artists. In 1918 the Imperial War Museum commissioned four paintings of munitions factories which remain in their collection.
Airy had a studio in the village of Playford, Suffolk and was elected President of the Ipswich Art Society in 1945 which to this day has an Airy Prize for students. Airy studied under Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer at the Slade where she won numerous prizes and exhibited at the Royal Academy in every year from 1905 to 1956.
David Bomberg (1890 - 1957)
Though at the Slade for a while under both Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer (where he won the Tonks Prize) he left prematurely, presumably because his bold and unconventional approach made him almost impossible to teach. Bomberg also studied for a while under Walter Richard Sickert.
Bomberg met the great innovators Modigliani and Picasso. He taught Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach. Auerbach described Bomberg’s “most original, stubborn, radical intelligence”. Though he died in penury his work, especially his Spanish landscapes, achieve astonishing results in auction houses.
Ronald Ossory Dunlop (1894 - 1970)
Irish author, poet and masterful painter of landscape, portrait and still life. He often worked the canvas with a pallet knife rather than a brush and as such developed a highly impastoed and distinctive style.
A prolific exhibitor he achieved commercial success within his lifetime. His work can be seen in a number of museums and galleries including the Tate Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1950.
Lucy Harwood (1893 - 1972)
Harwood was an early student of Sir Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett Haines at Benton End. Originally she had wanted to pursue a career in music but a botched operation on her right arm ruled this out and she turned to painting with her left hand.
Although Harwood arrived at Benton End as a student she essentially remained there as part of the artistic ecosystem that surrounded Morris and Lett for the rest of her life. Whilst it is inevitable that she will always be remembered for her association with Benton End her innovation, strident originality and bold use of colour mark her out as an important contributor in her own right.
Walter Richard Sickert (1860 - 1942)
That Sickert had a defining influence on the development of modern British paintings is doubted by very few. Sickert spent time at the Slade and then as an assistant to Whistler. He new Degas. Sickert was also a friend and painting companion to Winston Churchill.
Sickert’s approach was very confident and in a sense egocentric. When compared to many other painters, there is a heightened sense that what he offers us on the canvas is his unique perspective. He painted back in his studio and very often tackled the grime and mess of life. He said “the plastic arts are gross arts, dealing joyously with gross material facts”.
Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith (1879 - 1959)
Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith (1879 - 1959)
Smith studied at the Manchester School of Art and the Slade and additionally under Henri Matisse in Paris where he felt the influence of Fauvism. He is known for his still life painting especially and also his highly distinctive portraiture and landscape painting.
He frequently painted in France and a French landscape of particular note can be seen in the Tate Gallery. Roger Fry bought his paintings which are distinctive and immediately recognisable for their bold and distinctive use of both colour and form.
Joan Warburton (1920 - 1996)
Warburton (known as “Maudie”) was an early student at Benton End where she learnt to paint with Sir Cedric Morris, Arthur Lett Haines and alongside a diverse range of other pupils including Lucien Freud. She remained in contact with Freud after Benton End.
During her early period in London Warburton produced large street scapes in oil that are strikingly of their time. Eventually Warburton returned to Suffolk where she lives a stones throw from Benton End in the old wig shop in Stoke by Nayland. Towards the end of her career she painted increasingly with watercolour and many are very masterful indeed.
Philip Wilson Steer (1860 - 1942)
Influenced by both Constable and Turner, like his friend Sickert, Wilson Steer ultimately made a significant contribution to British Impressionism epitomised for example in the painting ‘Girls Running: Walberswick Pier’ now at the Tate.
For a period Wilson Steer ran a school of painting at Walberswick but he taught for a long time at the Slade alongside Henry Tonks and others. As such he had a huge influence on the younger crop of painters coming through like Stanley Spencer, Augustus John, Paul Nash and Anna Airy.
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