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Artwork of the Month - March 2007


Gull Rock

Artist: William John Caparne (1855 - 1940)
Medium: Pastel drawing
Status: Permanent collection
Item No.: GMAG 1991.14

About the Artist

Caparne was born in Newark, Nottinghamshire and studied at the Slade School, London and the Academie Julien in Paris. After his studies Caparne returned to Nottinghamshire, and was appointed art master to Oundle School.

In 1894 a new headmaster was appointed at Oundle, who expected Caparne to teach engineering drawing as part of the student's art education. Caparne could not fulfill this requirement and was subsequently dismissed. Even more sadly, that same year Caparne's wife died at the early age of 45.

With this turmoil in Caparne's life he looked to make a fresh start somewhere with his daughter Winifred. This fresh start involved moving to Guernsey. The wonderful scenery, coastline and climate; ideal for growing irises, another of Caparne's passions, must have contributed to him choosing Guernsey as his new home.

Caparne rarely sold any of his pictures, although there were willing buyers. Caparne painted because he needed to display his sheer joy and wonder in nature

During the 1930's Caparne developed his technique in pastels. The immediacy of this medium must have appealed to Caparne, who painted 'en plein air' (in the open air), as the Impressionists had done. The confidence of hand which came from years of sketching and painting, shows clearly in these later works, which have a bold and unselfconscious quality to them, as we can see in this month's Artwork of the Month.