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It seemed to me appropriate that I, as an artist, should illustrate and write my first book about Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth.
Artists such as Lorrain and Poussin partly inspired the naturalistic movement in landscape, of which Brown was the most influential exponent. Universally known by his nickname, we owe to this son of a Northumberland farmer a vision of the English country house in its parkland that still endures.
From childhood I have been passionate about the great country houses, many of which were abandoned and dilapidated in the 1950s when I explored them with my mother. I became a full-time artist over 40 years ago and this has allowed me to professionally indulge myself by painting them. A number of places in making this book I had visited before to undertake commissions, or just to paint for the pleasure, and in some ways this book is a culmination of all these years of visiting and painting country houses and their landscapes.
Full gallery of work featured in this book is available to view here
‘Capability’ Brown is thought to have worked on perhaps 150 or so country houses, nearly a third of which I have painted for a A Brush with Brown. Whilst a handful are fragments of once great designs, they include many of Brown’s most important surviving works, from Alnwick in the north to Petworth and Burton Pynsent in the south. In these places I see all the hallmarks of ‘Capability’ Brown’s legacy – the park grazed by sheep or deer, serpentine lake, undulating hills whose contours are softened by clumps of trees, distant house – but all of them seen through my eye as a painter.
As well as writing an introductory account of ‘Capability’ Brown’s career and something on each of the houses chosen, I have contributed a personal insight to my approach as a painter when working on this book. My 80 or so paintings, which include both oils and watercolours, range widely across the seasons, capturing the essential character of Brown’s achievement in the full glory of its late maturity. So often when I work towards a major exhibition I feel empty when my friends, the pictures, are disbursed but this time at least I will have a memorial to two of the most fascinating years accumulating this collection of pictures for this book. I hope that perhaps that others can share with me some of the joy of its creation.
A Brush with Brown was first published by the Dovecote Press in April 2016. The book price is £30, printed in large format landscape (268 x 235 mm), 144 pages, casebound and jacketed, Illustrated throughout in full colour & designed by Humphrey Stone. Copies specially signed by Tim Scott Bolton will be available to subscribers at that price, inclusive of all post and packing (except overseas when please add £15, Europe £10).