The work of an Old Breconian artist, described as the missing link between JMW Turner and David Hockney, is being unveiled in a new exhibition. James Dickson Innes died of TB at just 27 in 1914, but his brief career produced paintings which now hang in galleries around the world. He predominantly painted Welsh landscapes, in particular the mountains around Bala lake in Gwynedd.
The National Museum Cardiff is unveiling an exhibition of his work. According to Anne Pritchard, Senior Art Curator, his style is a blend of techniques which makes Innes impossible to pigeonhole. “He painted much of the same breathtaking scenery as Turner had a century before, and you can see Turner’s romantic influence in Innes’ work,” she said. “But Innes’ use of bold, thickly-applied colour was unusual in Britain at the time, and has far more in common with Continental post-impressionists like Matisse. Among the general public Innes isn’t nearly as well-known as he deserves to be, but he’s definitely had a significant effect in art circles. You can argue that his techniques indirectly influenced the artists who followed, like David Hockney for instance.”
Innes was born in Llanelli in 1887, he was the son of a notable Scottish historian John Innes. He attended Christ College between 1898 and 1904 before winning a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art in 1905. After graduating he studied and worked in Paris.
Whilst there, he met and fell in love with the wife of fellow artist Henry Lamb. Euphemia Lamb, his good friend August John and Henry Lamb were all involved in a tangled web of affairs with each other. By 1911, Innes and John had become slightly obsessed with capturing the beauty of north Wales by living a spartan, gypsy lifestyle off the land. Sadly, life on the road damaged Innes’ health and he was diagnosed with TB. As his health faded, it ushered in the most creative and tragic period of his career.
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