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Clay Head seascape

Date made: 1890s-1920s

Artist: Quayle, Edward Christian

Description: The painting can be viewed both at a distance and at close quarters. Overall it provides a view of rolling waves crashing on to the rocks at Clay Head, Lonan, looking north along the coast to Laxey. It probably depicts a winter storm judging by the cold icy colour of the water and the sea boiling like a giant cauldron.

On closer inspection, one can see the wrack (seaweed) left by the storm hanging off the rocks, a lone black bird flying over the waves (probably a shag or a cormorant) and the smaller gulls flying over or sheltering in amongst the rocks.

At a distance, you might assume the rocks and waves to be five to ten feet high, but when you look at the relative size of the birds against the rocks, the scale increases dramatically. On the right hand side of the painting is a tiny detail, easily missed, of a ship on the horizon struggling in the storm. The black steamer with a red funnel is possibly an Isle of Man Steam Packet vessel battling against the Irish Sea en route to Douglas. Quayle is best-known for his watercolours. However, he did exhibit some oils from 1890 to 1910. It is possible that this undated example falls into this period.

At one level this painting is a traditional representation of a maritime scene, an evocative image of a stormy Manx sea crashing against the rocks. However, it could also be considered an artistic ‘potboiler’. Seascapes were a very popular subject for an island population and, therefore, commercially lucrative for local artists. The painting was donated to the Manx Museum by E.C. Quayle’s son. The artist may therefore have produced it for his own enjoyment and appreciation rather than as a commercial piece.

The changing artistic styles of the 20th century can immediately be seen by comparing Quayle’s traditional and very Victorian oil painting of a stormy sea with the much more abstract watercolour of Ramsey Bay by Dachinger produced less than 50 years later.

Measurements: artwork: 66.5 cm x 118.5 cm

Materials: Oil on canvas

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-5951

Subject tags : #mm100artcollection


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