Edward Stott: A Master of Colour and Atmosphere
2018 marks the centenary of the death of Edward Stott (1855-1918), an artist described as ‘the poet-painter of the twilight’. To mark this occasion and celebrate his work, Towner is presenting a long overdue exhibition of paintings from across Stott’s lengthy career. The exhibition, which brings together a large body of Stott’s paintings for the first time in over 40 years, includes a number of works from Towner’s own permanent collection, as well as a selection of loans from national institutions including The Royal Academy, Manchester Art Gallery, Touchstones in Rochdale, and The National Trust.
Towner’s Head of Collections Sara Cooper has curated A Master of Colour and Atmosphere alongside renowned Stott expert, Dr Valerie Webb, whose book of the same name will accompany the exhibition.
The strength of Stott’s work is in his atmospheric and poetic depictions of rural scenes. Whilst he did not paint his canvases outdoors in true plein-air fashion, he did sketch in pencil, chalk and pastels in the open air, making written notes on the weather, light and colour, which he would then use to produce paintings in his studio. A Master of Colour and Atmosphere includes a selection of these sketches as well as the paintings themselves, giving visitors an insight into Stott’s process and working methods.
Edward Stott: A Master of Colour & Atmosphere follows Towner’s acclaimed 2017 summer exhibition Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, whose accompanying book by Andy Friend was named ‘art book of the year’ in The Sunday Times.
Stott was born William Edward Stott in Rochdale, later becoming known by his middle name to avoid confusion with his fellow artist William Stott of Oldham. A lack of family support for his creativity resulted in him spending several years working in his father’s office before he was able to pursue his artistic career, which he began by studying part-time at Manchester Academy of Fine Art. In 1880 he moved to Paris where he studied at the atelier of Carolus-Duran, progressing onto the Ecole des Beaux Arts, under the artist Alexandre Cabanel. While undertaking this formal training Stott became acquainted with recent developments in French art and he made frequent visits to the French countryside producing works that stood alongside those made at the same time by artists such as George Clausen, Stanhope Forbes and Henry Herbert La Thangue. He was one of this important generation of British artists trained in Paris whose works were inspired by the naturalism of Jules Bastien-Lepage and the Impressionism of Claude Monet. During this period Stott had his work accepted for exhibition at the Paris salon, and at least one painting accepted by the Royal Academy in London in 1883. He was elected an Associate Royal Academician in 1906.
After Paris, he returned to Britain and eventually settled in Amberley, not far from Towner in Sussex. There Stott drew the local people, animals and countryside, prompting a critic from The Magazine of Art to write in 1900 that ‘The scenes he pictures from that part of Sussex which he has made his own are so satisfying because of the deep knowledge and intimacy of his outlook on them’. Stott died on 19 March 1918 and was buried at Amberley. In support of the Royal Academy he left them in his will a sum of money to provide travelling scholarships for art students and to purchase modern pictures.
Image: Edward Stott (1859-1918), Washing Day, 1899, Oil on canvas. Watts Gallery Trust. Above: Edward Stott, The Bird Cage, c. 1875.