09/12/2023 General News
With its big skies, picturesque countryside and pure light, it is little surprise that East Anglia acts as a magnet for artists – and it has always held that allure, writes Daniel Smith. The result is a rich heritage of East Anglian art, a heritage which is increasingly recognised around the world – and is leading to strong demand for works from our regional artists, both contemporary and long-gone.
We should be really proud that our region has gained a reputation worldwide for producing top-quality visual art, and this is reflected in the prices being achieved in the auction room, as well as the increasingly wide geographical spread of buyers for such work.
Keys’ East Anglian Art Sale, which takes place three times a year, has become the most important auction of such works, and is now acknowledged amongst both collectors and dealers as the main event for sourcing East Anglian art.
The final East Anglian Art Sale of 2023 takes place later this month, and as ever the work on offer ranges from fine paintings by Old Masters to vibrant pictures by contemporary artists.
Firmly in the first category is George Vincent (1796-c.1836). Born in Norwich, the son of a cloth manufacturer, Vincent was educated at Norwich Grammar School, before becoming a pupil of John Crome, a doyen of the Norwich School of Artists, and one of the finest (and under-rated outside his home county) English landscape painters who ever lived.
He studied alongside Crome’s son John Berney Crome and James Stark, and the three would become close friends as well as artistic collaborators.
Vincent moved to London in 1817 and was admitted as a student in the school attached to the British Institution in Pall Mall. But by 1824 he was in debt, and spent three years in the Fleet debtors’ prison. He was still able to paint at this time, but the experience had a lasting effect on his health, and he died sometime in the mid 1830s, almost certainly before his 40th birthday.
His short and turbulent life meant that his output was smaller than some of his contemporaries, which gives them a rarity value today; in the saleroom his works sell for thousands of pounds.
20th century artist Ian Houston was born in Gravesend in Kent in 1934, and before becoming a visual artist he studied as a concert pianist at the Royal College of Music.
He moved to North Walsham to teach art at the high school in 1964, having met a titan of the East Anglian art scene, Edward Seago, in London in 1957. Seago became something of a mentor to Houston, and under his tutelage, he became an accomplished landscape artist.
He joined the Guild of Norwich Painters in 1994, and later became the group’s president. He died in 2021.
Many of his pictures depict Norfolk scenes, but he painted all over Europe and beyond, so his work is quite cosmopolitan. In our December East Anglian Art Sale that variety is evident, with paintings by Houston featuring subjects ranging from Burnham Overy Staithe to a Turkish boatyard.
Keys’ final East Anglian Art Sale on 2023 takes place on Friday 15th December.