Congham House, Norfolk, England
Barking Timber in Wychwood Forest, Oxfordshire
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From the Collection
A significant watercolorist in his lifetime, Cristall was largely forgotten after his death, only rediscovered in 1950 by Graham Reynolds who declared that Cristall’s watercolors provided the basis for Cotman’s first and greatest style and even anticipated Cezanne’s innovations. The artist's mature work is distinct among his contemporaries for focusing on the human figure, and this drawing demonstrates his abiding interest in themes of rural work. He likely encountered these bark workers in Witchwood Forest, Oxfordshire and, although certainly aware of precedents by Thomas Gainnsborough and George Morland, Cristall adds a distinct quality of classical nobility. The artist's compositions often focus on a comely young woman, but avoid sentimentality and a sense of narrative, leaving the subjects detached while engaged in commonplace activity. Medium: graphite, pen and gray ink, and watercolour with gum arabic and with scratching out.
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From the Watercolour World