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Spring Love

William Henry Margetson (1861-1940)


Twice signed and incorrectly dated 1873

Oil on canvas

40 x 24 inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', 2021, No 66

Though this oil on canvas is – somewhat puzzlingly – dated 1873, when William Henry Margetson would have been only 12 years of age, it is likely to have been painted at the height of the artist’s fame, during the first two decades of the twentieth century. By that time, he had become well known for his paintings of beautiful young women, sitting or standing in meditative isolation. It is likely that he used his daughters as models, and his own houses in Blewbury, then in Berkshire, for many of the settings. While some of the subjects are resolutely modern, with suggestions of the New Woman or even the Flapper, others evoke the Georgian or Regency period. So, the present work might represent a scene from a novel by Jane Austen, and could be compared to the work of Hugh Thomson and the Brothers Brock, Margeston’s contemporaries in the field of illustration. However, though Margetson was himself a highly able narrative illustrator, he was more interested – in his paintings – in creating a mood, through careful arrangements, delicate harmonies of colour and subtle effects of light.