The 1940 masterpiece by John Craxton was produced for his friend, and archaeologist, Stuart Piggott and represents the enchanting Cranborough landscape accompanied with three Bronze Age pots – unearthed by Piggott himself on Crichel Down. The archaeologist’s love for the arts had turned him into a passionate collector, and big names responsible for painting the Wessex region, such as Paul Nash and John Piper, were part of his art entourage.
Craxton’s wanderlust came to full force at a very young age – spending long nomadic periods near Farnham in Dorset. His paintings are a powerful blend of limitations on society during war and freedom of expression. The pieces were painted under bright Cretan skies, adding colours and mystery to landscapes, which as a result are always a delight to look at.
The artist’s wandering nature depicted in this particularly remarkable masterpiece is thoughtfully brought to life by Ian Collins, curator, author, as well as Craxton’s friend and art executor. This painting is one of his astonishingly surviving works, signifying his everlasting love for landscape and archaeology – leading him to make the passionate journey from Wessex to Greece. The innovative expedition from childlike themes of isolation and persecution to a celebration of time, hope and serenity of the beautiful country is mirrored in the sweeps of his paintbrush, now proudly on display.
This painting joins the exhibition currently at The Salisbury Museum. The display, A Poetic Eye, forms an incredible link between art and archaeology, which is not only a fascinating treat for art and history lovers but also proves to be a deep understanding into John Craxton’s insightfully artistic mind. The exploration of Craxton’s journey into light and colour is a must-see for everyone, accompanied by discussions delivered by Ian Collins, the man behind the display.
A Poetic Eye is on display at the Salisbury Museum until the 7 May 2016. Open daily from 10AM–5PM.