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Sketching by the River

Oil on Canvas
30” x 50”

Frederick William Hulme

(British 1816 – 1884)


Frederick William Hulme was a landscape painter, born in 1816, in Swinton, in Yorkshire. His mother was a painter on porcelain, and initially she taught and encouraged her son to take up painting. In 1841, he first began exhibiting his landscapes at the Birmingham Academy.

The first three decades of the 19th century saw landscape painting transformed from a fairly humble branch of art based on topography, to one that was rich and vitally creative. England was changing from a rural society to an urban one and country life was viewed nostalgically as purer, healthier and more natural than life in the smoky new cities. Social prestige was associated with ownership of land and money and trade were seen as vulgar. The Victorian new rich hastened to buy themselves country estates and the large demand for landscape paintings produced a huge number of landscape artists. These paintings filled the new middle class parlours and were the staple diet of the Royal Academy every year.

Frederick William Hulme moved to London in 1844, where he became an illustrator and engraver.  However, he soon tired of this and he started painting landscapes again. By 1852 he was living in Hereford Square and he began exhibiting his works at the Royal Academy and the British Institute in London, and also in the provinces.

Frederick William Hulme’s paintings were mostly idyllic Welsh or Surrey views with animals and the occasional rustic figure. Sketching by the River is a superb example of the artist’s work, painted ’en plein air’, on the banks of the river Llugwy, near Bettws-y-Coed, in North Wales in 1877, during a period he spent painting on trips to North Wales. Frederick Hulme has beautifully captured the magnificence of the fast flowing river – a lone figure sits on a rock sketching the scene, just as the artist must have done himself. Frederick Hulme uses an almost Pre-Raphaelite quality in painting the moss-covered rocks and boulders, as the fast flowing river rushes over them. Lush green trees line the banks, with the mountains just peeping through, under the magnificent sky and rolling clouds. This painting realistically illustrates the timeless beauty of the Welsh countryside with its many rivers.

© Sutcliffe Galleries 2022


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