William Herbert Allen (1863-1943)
`The Goatherd`s Dream`
An amazing large watercolour by W.H.Allen depicting a mythical scene where a vision is appearing to a sleeping goatherd, set in an arcadian landscape. I think the scene depicted is probably from the Classics - a Classical scholar friend of mine thinks this is most likely Endymion, loved by the moon goddess Selene who appeared to him in his dreams, this was a favourite subject for artists. This would appear to be quite a late work by Allen, in the latter part of his career he was depicting dreamlike, almost mystical rural scenes of the Hampshire and Surrey countryside in this interesting drybrush pointillist technique highlghted with pen and ink, which gives a shimmering fresco-like effect to the image. The animals and the figures are exquisitely drawn. The classical subject is an unusual one for Allen, as normally his subjects are firmly rooted in the local countryside, similar in a way to Samuel Palmer. The Allen Gallery in Alton, Hampshire has a huge collection of his work and many images online at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/allen-gallery/w-h-allen.htm
The painting is set in an ivory coloured mount, and housed in a very nice Victorian/Edwardian gilt frame with ivy leaf decoration.
William Herbert Allen (1863-1943) was a notable English landscape watercolour artist whose career spanned more than 50 years from the 1880s to the 1940s. He was invariably referred to as "WH" rather than by his given name. Born 14 September 1863 in West Brompton, London, of parents from Alton, Hampshire. After leaving school, Allen obtained a scholarship at the Royal School of Woodcarving in 1880. Following a period spent in a successful carving workshop, and a brief period as a solicitor’s clerk he returned to education and entered the Royal College of Art in 1884. There he came under the influence of its Director, Thomas Armstrong, a disciple of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. This was to have a profound effect on Allen's artistic development, and remained the predominant stylistic influence throughout his long working life.He also won many prizes, including, in 1888, a silver medal and a travelling scholarship of £50 which enabled him to take the first of many trips to the Continent.
Allen returned from Milan in May 1889, and later the same year was appointed as Art Master at Farnham School of Art. He was later promoted to the post of Director in recognition of his talents, and also put in overall charge of the teaching of art in the local primary and secondary schools. Although he was to remain at Farnham for the next 39 years Allen was able not only to pursue his private interests but to undertake artistic commissions for the Victoria and Albert and other museums. These tasks took him to France or Italy each year between 1890 and 1909 in order to survey and illustrate historic buildings for publication at home.
He produced several thousand watercolours, chalk and pencil sketches mainly of the landscapes, traditions and people of West Surrey and North-east Hampshire. These works included commissions in Italy for the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dublin, Edinburgh and Preston museums. He was made a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1903 and the Royal Society of British Artists in 1904 and his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1910- 1927. He moved from Surrey to Wylye, Wiltshire in 1932 and is buried at St Nicholas's Church, Fisherton de la Mere. Many of W. H. Allen's paintings are regularly displayed at the Allen Gallery, Church Street, Alton. These include landscapes of the local East Hampshire countryside at the beginning of the 20th century.
For a fuller biography of this artist please follow the link above to the Allen Museum.
|Image size||21 x 15 inches||Provenance||signed lower right|
|Overall size||27 x 22 inches|