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Joseph Crawhall (1861-1913)


 

Though born in Northumbria, Joseph Crawhall is generally classified as a Scottish artist, due to his close association with a group of artists known as the Glasgow Boys, in particular James Guthrie, E.A. Walton and Arthur Melville. Together with the latter two, he is recognised as one of the group's most outstanding watercolourists.

Crawhall was a student at Glasgow School of Art. He was famously very critical of his own work and often destroyed paintings he no longer liked.

In the 1890s, after his family had moved to London, Crawhall was a regular visitor to the annual fair in the London borough of Barnet and painted the picture Barnet Fair. Here Crawhall captures the colour and atmosphere of this centuries-old event in the paint technique Gouache on Linen. This painting is held at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Tangier, with its walled Medina intersected by narrow streets and dominated by the Kasbah, was perceived by the writers, artists and tourists who dared travel there as a mystical, magical place. Unlike most artist visitors to Tangier, Crawhall was not interested in portraying the social or physical context of the city. Instead he captured and conveyed the characteristics of Tangier's domestic animals, particularly horses, camels and goats.

Crawhall first painted with gouache on linen around 1893. According to family legend he was visiting one of his sisters when he discovered that he had no paper left to work on. He decided to experiment with the brown Holland linen she used for sewing. Watercolour is transparent. By adding bodycolour or Chinese white you get gouache, which unlike watercolour is opaque. This is sometimes known as poster paint. Painting with gouache on linen is difficult but Crawhall uses it to advantage. Crawhall often uses bright patches of colour to frame and outline forms allowing him to define shapes without having to use strong contouring lines.

Many examples of Crawhall's work can be viewed at http://www.scran.ac.uk/ and typing Crawhall in the Search Box. Examples of his work can also be seen at the Burrell Collection in the south side of Glasgow. Some other examples can be viewed at the Art Fund at : http://www.artfund.org/artsaved/search.html?type=artist&q=3809&sort=location&direction=asc&start=0

Here are some prints of cockerels and birds in an aviary by Joseph Crawhall that are available for sale via Amazon. I have also listed a book about Crawhall which has on its cover the painting: