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Children in a Hayfield

Watercolour, signed in monogram

8 x 6 in. (14 x 12 in. framed)

Provenance: Private collection, U.K

Children in a Hayfield  by

Myles Birket Foster was born in 1825 at North Shields, Northumberland into a prosperous family, who were staunch Quakers. In early childhood, he moved to London, where his father founded M .B. Foster and Sons, which was later to become the largest firm of bottlers in the world.At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to Ebenezer Landells, who was a former pupil of Thomas Bewick, the celebrated Newcastle engraver and as a young man Birket Foster rapidly achieved a name as one of the leading exponents of the art of drawing on wood blocks for the production of black and white engravings.The success of the watercolours of Birket Foster was instant and phenomenal. Commissions poured in and by 1860 he was elected an Associate of the Watercolour Society. His technique was to make apreliminary pencil drawing onto which he placed a certain amount of colour wash and essential areas of Chinese white, over which he worked in a stippling manner with minute brush strokes, in order to produce an intensely detailed effect. He rarely dated his work, which is characteristically signed with a monogram, but some early pieces are signed B.Foster. He was made a full member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1862.A critic writing in the Athenaeum in 1862 stated…..It seems that it is nearly always a summer day in the watercolours of Birket Foster, as children gather flowers and hay makers load farm carts in golden fields. Many of his subjects were based on the tangled hedgerows and wooded lanes of Surrey, where in 1863 he built a large house, at Whitley, near Godalming called the Hill, which was an essay in Victorian Tudorism and was one of the earliest to have an interior decorated to the designs of the recently established firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkener and Co., incorporating stained glass, tiles,etc from Burne-Jones, Ford Maddox Brown and RossettiBirket Foster sketched in many parts of the British Isles and also traveled abroad, including numerous trips to Venice, in order to complete a commission for fifty watercolours of  the city, which he had received from Charles Seeley M.P. He mainly exhibited at the Watercolour Society and some oil paintings at the Royal Academy, although in 1874 he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Berlin Academy.


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