EDWARD ATKINSON HORNEL (SCOTTISH 1864-1933)
Signed with initials and dated '94, oil on canvas laid down
35.5cm x 28cm (14in x 11in) Estimate £ 15,000-20,000 + fees Note:
The influence of Japan on late 19th century European art is well known and in Scotland the effect was no less profound than anywhere else.
In particular the two friends among the Glasgow Boys known as 'the inseperables', George Henry and E. A. Hornel, took inspiration from the art of Japan. In 1893 Hornel and Henry decided to visit the Far East. They travelled to London and set sail in February of that year, financed initially by Alexander Reid and William Burrell and spent most of their time in Tokyo, Nagasaki and Yokahama, attempting to integrate into Japanese society.
Within a short time however, stylistically stifled, they had agreed to spend less time together and their work subsequently took on marked differences. Henry became more linear and Hornel more attuned to colour and the use of paint, in what London critics had termed disparagingly his 'Persian carpet' style. His subject matter during the trip consisted largely of local girls in poses which were clearly in conscious imitation of Japanese prints but which nevertheless exhibit an individual style which would have a bearing on his later work.
A painting from the period entitled 'Dancing Geisha,' now in a private collection (illustrated in Billcliffe's 'Glasgow Boys' p259) bears a marked similarity to the current picture and it seems possible that the models were the same girl. It is known that during their stay in Japan, Hornel became closely attached to one particular young Japanese girl and perhaps the somewhat coquettish nature of the picture on offer here and the dancing Geisha may owe something to this.
On his return from the East, Hornel was given a show by Reid in 1895, which was well received and financially successful. Clearly the effect of the Japanese period had a lasting impact on Hornel's art and while his best known work of later years generally tackled more sobre, domestic subjects, he was always drawn to Japanese themes.