‘Clearing the Wood – A Bright Autumnal Day’
Exhibited RA 1853
Oil on canvas 38″ x 58″
Sidney Richard Percy
British 1821 – 1886
Sidney Richard Percy was the fifth son of the artist Edward Williams, and he began his career when his elder brothers were already established. At first he painted under his family name ‘Sidney Williams’ but at the age of 20, he changed it Sidney Richard Percy, presumably to avoid confusion with the rest of the renowned Williams family of painters.
Percy married in 1857 and settled his new family in Buckinghamshire at the Regency house, Hill House, where he and his somewhat extravagant wife, Emily, lived in relative splendour, maintaining a carriage and pair and employing an army of servants. Sidney Richard Percy, who was described by fellow artist, William Callow as ‘… of a gentle disposition and a retiring nature’ enjoyed considerable success during this period, exhibiting extensively at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and Suffolk Street.
The Percy family moved in 1863 to Buckinghamshire, where their house overlooked the Misbourne Valley and beech woods beyond. However on the death of the two elder children, they moved to Bickley Lodge, Redhill and then later to Sutton in Surrey.
In the Autumn of 1865, Percy visited Venice, returning home through Switzerland and Paris, but it was the Welsh landscape and scenery that inspired and moved him the most. In particular the villages of Llandbedr and Arthog, which are situated on either side of Mawddach estuary and he would often ride alone to these mountainous regions, away from the usual paths of the visitor. His skilled treatment of the mountains and lakes far surpasses many of his imitators, painted under dramatic skies, with an approaching storm, swirling mountain mists or the rosy glow of a Welsh sunset.
This magnificent painting Clearing the Wood – a Bright Autumnal Day, which was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1851, illustrates Percy’s consummate skill as one of Britain’s finest landscape painters. Percy has really excelled himself in his painting Clearing the Wood – with its wonderful sky, and rolling clouds, the beautifully drawn figures of the men and horses, pulling and pushing the huge log across the stream, and the old oak tree, with its rich, dense foliage. Two young children on the bank watch the men toiling with their load, and on the other side, a cowhand pauses on his donkey and surveys the scene. Clearing the Wood – a Bright Autumnal Day is an exceptional painting in both quality and composition.
In 1886 Sidney Richard Percy fell from his horse and following complications and after a long period of illness, he died. On his death it was discovered that he and his wife had only just been living within their means and his estate left £782. Percy’s widow Emily was supported in her later years by their son-in-law.
Sidney Richard Percy’s work is represented in the museums of Bath, Cardiff, Canada, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Sunderland, Salford and York.
© Sutcliffe Galleries 2018