1947-1956: The Paintings of William Logsdail
All by William Logsdail - St Anne's Almshouses, Antwerp; An Early Victorian (cropped); Venice (cropped)
The work of Lincoln born artist William Logsdail is well represented in the Usher Gallery collection and during this particular decade of collecting the Usher Gallery acquired several key pieces, defining important stages in his career.
After attending the Lincoln School of Art, Logsdail continued his art education at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Antwerp under Professor Verlat (1878-1880). Here he received the highest honour of the International Concours for a life sized nude painting, the first Englishman to do so. At both Lincoln and Antwerp he learned to observe at first hand from nature and in the painting 'St Anne's Almshouses, Antwerp' (H. Newsum bequest, 1956) we see evidence of this, especially in the architectural detail.
Logsdail is particularly well-known for his Venetian paintings, and in 1954 the Usher received a great example from this period of his life, bequeathed by John D. Ruddock Esq. Simply called 'Venice' it shows the city on a hot summer's day from the Island of San Giorgio with the calm water in the foreground and the Doge's Palace behind. Logsdail spent two periods in Venice, the first following his studies at Antwerp, when he wished to study colour and extend his experience; the second, following a few years in London, when he returned to Venice with his new wife.
Of all the works presented to the Usher at this time, one that stands out is Logsdail's painting 'An Early Victorian', painted in 1906. Presented by Mrs Logsdail in 1950, it depicts their daughter Mary, aged 12, dressed in Victorian costume. She often modelled and famously did so for the artist Gertrude Demain Hammond, dressed as Maggie Tulliver for 'The Mill on the Floss'. Logsdail was inspired by this to paint his daughter and it was shown at the Royal Academy in 1907. It was such a success it was awarded 'Painting of the Year'. He received seven offers for the portrait but would not sell it, eventually painting a copy for one customer. This was a major turning point in Logsdail's career, and he was inundated with requests for portrait commissions, a lucrative move on his part, enabling him to settle down to a more comfortable life.
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