Three Generations. c.1919. Conte crayon and watercolor on watercolor board. 14 x 15 7/8. Signed in pencil lower right; titled verso. Housed in a complimentary green and beige mat and a 24 1/4 x 27 1/2-inch period gold leaf frame. $2,500.
William Lee-Hankey specialized in landscapes, character studies and portraits of pastoral life, especially mothers and children. He consistently depicted the daily life of the working poor in several generations.
Lee-Hankey studied art in the evenings at the Chester School of Art (now the Department of Art and Design at University of Chester), then at the Royal College of Art. Later in Paris he became influenced by the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage, who also favoured rustic scenes depicted in a realistic but sentimental style. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896 and was President of the London Sketch Club from 1902 to 1904. He stayed in France in the early 1900s, painting many of his works in Brittany and Normandy, where he depicted a peasant lifestyle which was already disappearing in England. From 1904 until well after World War I he maintained a studio at the Etaples art colony. In Britain he had been associated with the Newlyn School, a group of English artists based in Cornwall.
Writing about Lee-Hankey in The Studio (Vol. XXXVI, No. 154, Jan. 1906) A. L. Baldry commented that “He is in his water-colours an absolute purist; he paints entirely with transparent pigments, and never has recourse to opaque colours; his brushwork is broad and confident – free, on the one hand, from affectation of showy cleverness, and, on the other, from niggling minuteness or over-elaboration; and he does not insist, as is the fashion with many present-day painters, upon lowness of tone.” He specialised in landscapes, character studies and portraits of pastoral life, particularly in studies of mothers with young children such as "We’ve Been in the Meadows All Day".
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