In Focus: Views of Britain’s coast ideal for staycation art lovers

An online exhibition of images from the coast of Britain is ideal staycation art viewing, says Huon Mallalieu.

For those staying at home this year, there could be no better virtual British holiday than that provided by the Maas Gallery in Clifford Street, London W1. They are running an exhibition dubbed ‘Summer in Britain’, an online show of 23 essentially Victorian landscape and coastal paintings.

Anyone who needs reminding of the sheer pleasure, rather than social positioning, to be had from art on the wall should have a wallow here. And the water really is lovely.

Among the 16 artists are three of the best of all painters of sea water and its movement: Henry Moore (1831–95), John Brett (1831–1902) and Charles Napier Hemy (1841–1917).

Moore and Hemy are represented by particularly fine examples. I am perhaps biased about Hemy, as beside my bed hangs what might be the last thing he ever painted, an impressionistic sketch that creates an utterly convincing reality.

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The Maas offering is much more ambitious: A Haul on the Mainsheet in water and bodycolour, measuring 17¾in by 29in, records three of his sons racing a small yacht off Falmouth on a hard-blowing day in 1910.

When shown at the RA in 1887, Moore’s 48in by 72in The Clearness after Rain was described as ‘his masterpiece’ and won the public vote for best marine painting. Public and critics, for once in accord, were right.

Henry Moore’s The Clearness after Rain (48in by 72in). Photo by Mario Bettella via Maas Gallery

The price range is from £1,800 for a Maxwell Ashby Armfield watercolour, Bather’s Tent at Lulworth, to £65,000 each for two of the four Moores.

The Maas Gallery in Clifford Street, London W1, is currently open by appointment only. As well as the Seaside exhibition, they’re also running an online-only exhibition of 50 works available for £5,000 and under, which also live up to Huon’s words about buying art for the sheer pleasure of hanging it on the wall. There are sketches, portraits and even a moonscape, while pictures such as Charles Parson Knight’s ‘Fresh Sea Breezes’ might as easily have been included in the ‘Summer in Britain’ exhibition.