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Dudley museum paintings to be restored

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 20, 2014

Boats on a Beach by Sir Alfred East (Dudley Museum and Art Gallery)

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THREE paintings at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery are set to be restored thanks to the generosity of the artist's grandson.

The works by Sir Alfred East (1844-1913) will be restored and re-framed thanks to a donation by the estate of Henry Johnson, East's grandson.

East studied painting in France and a number of his pictures, although firmly rooted in the tradition of English landscape painting, show the influence of French impressionism. He is famed for his sweeping natural vistas and a truthful capturing of scenes with an empathy with nature.

East spent a period in Japan in 1889 from which he produced a highly acclaimed collection. He was commissioned by the Fine Art Society to spend six months in the country capturing the landscape and its people, producing 104 pictures which received huge critical and popular success when exhibited in 1890.

The voyage to Japan was undertaken in company with Arthur Liberty, the founder of Liberty's store in London. The restoration is part of a future project to celebrate this voyage and the influence it had on East, Liberty and on British taste which was influenced by Liberty's shop.

Two of the pictures being restored are from this Japanese period, one Boats on a Beach shows Japanese boats and a stamp with Alfred East's name on in Japanese characters. The other picture is A Native Scene featuring figures under a bell tower. It is believed to be set in Sri Lanka, which would have been Ceylon in those days. Both pictures are watercolours. The restoration will lift the colours and remove the dark brown blotches (foxing) which can appear on the surface of the paper with age.

The third painting to be restored is a monochrome print of a country lane with a cottage. All three pieces are expected to go on display later in the year.

The museum owns 15 pieces by the artist, including paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints. Thanks to an earlier grant from the family of the painter one of the pictures, a large watercolour called The Funeral of Gladstone was restored in 2013.

East was an educator as well as a painter and published the acclaimed The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour in 1906 which looked not just at techniques but the importance of appreciating and understanding the landscapes themselves. He was awarded a knighthood in 1910 by Edward VII.

In 1906 he was elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a position he held until his death.

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