Chadding on Mount’s Bay by Alexander Stanhope Forbes

web Chadding on Mounts Bay (c) Museums WorcestershireThis painting was voted for by visitors to Worcester City Art Gallery as their favourite in the museum collection. It is an idyllic scene, the water is calm, the sun sparkles on their reflections in the water and the children are chadding (fishing) for herrings.

Stanhope Forbes was an ‘en plein air’ painter – painting outside, directly in front of the subject. This approach was pioneered by the French Impressionists and encouraged artists to capture ordinary life around them.

Stanhope Forbes uses bright pure colours to give an impression of light and atmosphere. His abundant use of white enhances the feeling of a hot summer’s day. Rather than using browns and blacks for the shadows, Forbes’ shadows on the boat and the girls’ blouses contain blue, reflected from the sky. There is harmony to the colours in this painting, where the cool blue stretch of water is contrasted with the warm tints of the childrens’ tanned skins, and the sweater of the boy.

Stanhope Forbes had moved to the Cornish village of Newlyn a few years before painting this picture, where he established an art school which had an important influence on British art in the late 19th century. Chadding is widely considered to be his greatest work.

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