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The Glen and the Blue Hills

Date made: c.1900-1933

Artist: Knox, Archibald

Description: Although many Manx artists add detail to make their landscapes instantly recognisable as a particular location or place on the Island, Knox’s work is far more anonymous. In The Glen, Knox reduces a potentially complex landscape by editing out all irrelevant or extraneous detail. All that remains is the flat blue sky and a series of blocks of colours with the dark hills in the background and the progressively lighter shades of green to the fore. Even the trees are distilled and reduced to a mere pattern. The spindly tree to the left of the picture is typical of the way Knox illustrated trees in his watercolours. Although not entirely realistic, it is instantly reminiscent of the trees found on the Manx hills that have been shaped and twisted by the unrelenting wind. As a result Knox’s work symbolises, as well as captures, the timelessness of the Manx landscape.

Unlike many artists who produce paintings primarily to sell and exhibit, Knox produced vast quantities of watercolours for neither reason. During Knox’s lifetime his paintings were only occasionally exhibited and none was ever known to have been sold. Instead a few were given away as gifts, but the majority were kept by Knox and subsequently by his family who then bequeathed them to the Manx Museum in 1946 and 1959.

Knox appears to have produced his watercolour paintings as a series of artistic studies, attempting to capture the changing qualities of light and its effect on the landscape. The traditional artistic maxim that one should practice one’s artistic craft every day appears to be one that Knox adhered to as he constantly refined and perfected his watercolour technique.

Most of Knox’s watercolours are unsigned and give no indication of date or title or even where on the Island they were painted. The descriptive title The Glen and the Blue Hills was given to this one when acquired by the Manx Museum.

Measurements: unframed artwork: 41 cm x 54.5 cm

Materials: watercolour on paper

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-5671

Subject tags : Isle of Man


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