William Townsend Centenary. Selected Paintings from the Artist's Estate

20.02.2009 • 20.02.2009

William Townsend Centenary. Selected Paintings from the Artist's Estate


James Hyman Fine Art is pleased to present our 30th exhibition in Mason's Yard.

William Townsend's landscapes hold a central place in the British art world of the mid twentieth century. Extremely widely exhibited in his lifetime, they have in recent years slipped from such prominence. Although well represented in public collections - the Tate Gallery has three major paintings and the Government Art Collection six works - the present exhibition is Townsend's first significant show in Britain since the Tate Gallery in 1976 and the touring retrospective of 1978-80.

Since Townsend's death in 1973, most of his work has been out of sight to a British audience, being with the artist's children in Canada and the United States. This exhibition is, therefore, a major opportunity to appreciate the artist's development, reassess his achievements and reinstate Townsend alongside his peers, friends and contemporaries such as John and Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens, Victor Pasmore, Rodrigo Moynihan and William Coldstream.

Townsend's landscapes of the pre- and post-war years reveal an enquiring mind ever in search of new stimuli, one that gave a particular role to the imaginative recreation of the subject. They emphasise, too, a sophisticated artfulness that went alongside the careful scrutiny. Indeed the varied responses to the landscape, explored through notions of a genius loci, or spirit of place, found in the paintings of his contemporaries is also evident in Townsend's own paintings of the mid 1930s.

This is a timely moment as the arts of the mid twentieth century are being reassessed. With David Bomberg now valued alongside his students, such as Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, the time is surely well over-due for Townsend, too, to be more fully appreciated not just for his role as a teacher of celebrated painters such as Michael Andrews, Euan Uglow and Victor Willing, but for his own achievements as a painter.

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