Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Late Afternoon on Norwich River by John Crome

A late master-work from the great master of the Norwich School of artists John Crome. (1768-1821).

I believe that the Castle Museum, Norwich  acquired this art-work in the 1980's. The vibrancy of colour here is truly amazing; Crome found inspiration from simple urban water scenes. There's a couple of other great works which are located at New Mills, Norwich by Crome just as stunning as this, if less detailed.

By all accounts the rivalry between the Crome family of artists and the Stannard family, notably the brothers Alfred and Joseph Stannard was intense. This was due to John Crome snubbing the youthful prodigy Joseph Stannard's requests for painting lessons from the self-taught master.

Crome himself is reputedly to have uttered on his death-bed something like, 'Hobbema, Hobbema, how I have loved you,' which true or not, reveals the influence which the Dutch 17th century masters had upon the leading players in the Norwich School.

Now here's the puzzle. If this work is dated 1818-20 and Stannard saw it, there may be an artistic pun going on here. For if you take a really close look at the foreground in Stannard's Thorpe Water Frolic (elsewhere on this blog) it too depicts a small child trailing a toy boat from the stern of a boat. Is this quite specific allusion by Stannard to this painting  sour grapes or homage or tribute to a late master or self-election to the Mantle of leader of the Norwich School of Painters?
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