Scenes following in the footsteps of the early life of artist
First of all some images from this year’s Hatton Anniversary Walk led by Robin Thorndyke (pictured below in the white hat):
Following are photographs from undertaking the Brian Hatton Walk from Breinton Springs near Hereford in April 2017 led by local historian Robin Thorndyke. There were wonderful skies and participants had a delightful conviviality. If you read on I have also referred to a few of Hatton’s paintings, though the intention has not been to replicate but to explore the landscape Hatton knew. Below is a short biography of Brian and further photographs taken earlier in the year.
(If you like them please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Some will be aware that much of the landscape in which Brian Hatton painted (see the page) is threatened by a bypass. There is a report of a meeting covered on the front page of the current Hereford Times (my picture across three columns), also at
[More information is on the Breinton Parish Council website and also at https://www.facebook.com/groups/970596702970556/ ]
It has been pleasing that an exhibition of Brian Hatton paintings taken from the Museums and Collections department has been on display recently at Hereford Library and Art Gallery. Originally planned for 2016, the exhibition was thwarted by essential building work and maintenance. It has been short-lived, the gallery is closed again, but it is hoped will reopen in July.
There are also images from Robin’s walks from last year below.
The featured image (above), at the top of this page) is of sophisticated cumulus and cirrus cloud formations above the ‘Turkey Oak’ beside Warham House. Perhaps you may like my shot taken from underneath those trees, looking back westwards towards a horse chestnut.
The Lawns, Warham, Painting, 1908
These trees appear to be part of a group planted to enhance the view from Warham House, looking towards Belmont, not far from Brian’s home in Broomy Hill. Two of the three trees remain. On the left is a London plane, in the middle stands a Turkey oak, the third tree is no longer there. These are not indiginous species, they were introduced and first planted in Britain about 200 years ago, for their architectural appearance in parks and gardens. The house and lawns are just off the view to the right.
The following picture is an attempt to find the picturesque aspect of Hatton’s painting of the Wye near Belmont – the modern tree shapes seem to replicate those of Hatton’s over a century later, though the precise location is uncertain:
The Wye, Belmont Woods, Painting 1908
This is at the presumed site of Hatton’s painting:
He painted another view of the Wye near Belmont, though my picture is nearer to Breinton Common:
The Wye, Belmont, painting, 1908
Following is a view of the River Wye from below Warham House, close to the site of Hatton’s painting, and a gallery from the walk – images from the walk in 2016 taken earlier in the year.
The Brian Hatton Walk does not include the site of his painting of The Farm, Warham:
The Farm, Warham, painting, 1910
This charming farmhouse scene illustrates various elements of rural life in Edwardian England. Brian could easily have walked here from his home in Broomy Hill. Setting up to paint in the morning he had to cope with the breeze, but the sunlight on the grass and foliage promised a good day in which to finish his work and dry the washing. The farmhouse dates back to the 17th century and has changed little since Brian worked here. The apples at the base of the tree indicate that it is late summer, and the barrel is evidence of the cottage industry of cider making. It was common for farmer’s wives to keep ducks and chickens in the orchard, as a source of eggs and fresh meat. Brian uses the white ducks to balance the white in the sky and the washing to form an arc in the composition which carries the eye around the picture.
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Hatton: A short biography:
Brian Hatton was born in Hereford where he spent the greater part of his life, in the districts initially of Whitecross and then in Broomy Hill on the western flank of the city.
He showed early talent as a young child – at the age of eleven he was awarded the ‘Gold Star’ by the Royal Drawing Society and was taken under the wing of GF Watts who guided him with the support of his parents. His siblings were early subjects, but professionally he was able to open a studio in London as a professional portrait painter. It is of portraits and horses that afford us memorable images, but also the landscape of river, hills and the clouds that develops over the busy countryside forming his inspiration that these images are focussed.
The principal source of his paintings is the collection and biographical information curated by Herefordshire Council. The photographs are an encouragement to explore the land Hatton knew, still little changed from his inspired youth.
Brian lived with his parents at Carlton Villa, Whitecross until he was eight when he learned to ride. His first mount was the donkey, Neddy. Learning to ride Neddy was the beginning of the artist’s love of horses punctuating his career.
His love and understanding of them and the relationship between man and horse is clearly evident in his fluid images. The painting of his beloved Neddy, in watercolour, was awarded the Sir John Tenniel Prize from the Royal Drawing Society.
Brian then was eleven years old. In 1898 when he painted (Two horses ploughing, Oil Painting, 1899)—one of several images submitted that year to the Royal Drawing Society. His work was praised and he won the Gold Star as the best exhibitor, presented by Queen Victoria’s forth daughter, Princess Louise. Brian’s work also attracted the interest of the Victorian artist G.F. Watts as well as Colonel Collins, equerry to Princess Louise. At this time he mainly worked in watercolour or pastels but this oil painting shows the light touch and soft palette associated with these other mediums. In his image there is a peace and serenity of man and animals working in harmony with nature– a beauty captured by a thinking eleven year old boy.
Photographs in and around Breinton and the River Wye where Brian lived together with further pictures of the Brian Hatton Walk led by Robin Thorndyke on the Hatton centenary in 2016:
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The photographs above relate to Brian’s paintings some of which are described below:
The Hereford topography is characterised by the presence of the rivers Wye Lugg. It is thought this scene is probably on the river Lugg. The pollarded willows are reflected in the water as it sweeps round the bend. Brian has used watercolour to capture this tranquil view of water, foliage and reflections.
The River Wye at Sugwas
Oil Painting, 1906
This is a view looking west along the river Wye from above the Weir Cliff near Sugwas. In the distance the Black Mountains and Hay Bluff are seen partly obscured by cloud. The landscape is closely observed and well-finished from the middle distance, but the picture remains unfinished in the foreground. The group of children are unidentified. They are seen playing at a spot that may have been a favourite picnic site for local people, commanding fine views of the river and the distant hills on Welsh border. It is not known why Brian left this painting unfinished, but in August 1906, he left to go to the art school at Hospitalfields in Arbroath.
Harvesting, towards Morehampton
Watercolour Painted, 1910
This is a view from the high ground north of the village of Breinton Common, looking north-westwards along the Wye valley. The hamlet of Moorhampton, near Norton Canon, was a railway halt which served the well-known Foxley estate, famous for its connections with the Picturesque movement. Brian has shown the sheaves of corn which have been stacked into small groups called ‘stooks’. These would have been loaded onto the cart in the middle distance which is being pulled away by working horses. The rather heavy touches of purple paint in the sky in the upper right of the canvas appear to be unresolved.
Pastel Drawing, 1906
Other than the call of the cuckoo, no country sound was better known than the song of the skylark. The habit of the skylark is to tower high in the sky whilst pouring out its tireless exhuberant song. The children are gazing up looking for the source of the sound. They are country children completely at one with their surroundings. In early 1906, the artist returned to his studies in Oxford. This pastel drawing, also dated 1906, shows the richness of colour that can be achieved in this medium. The bright light on the children’s hair and the rich summer fields contrasts with the deep shadows of the trees in the middle distance. The figures are arranged in a classically balanced triangular composition. The darkening skies suggest that a rain storm is imminent. There is, perhaps, a Christian message here – these simply dressed children gaze upwards as the tiny bird flies heavenwards. For many artists and poets the skylark has become a symbol of spiritual enlightenment. This sentimental subject and Christian message suggests pre-raphaelite influence.
Study: Towards the Malverns
Oil Painting, 1910
From the high ground close to Brian’s home in Broomy Hill, Hereford, there are extensive views across the countryside with the Malvern hills in the far distance. This view is possibly from the top of Adam’s Hill a short distance along the lane from where he lived looking to the east. If this is the case he has deliberately excluded the city of Hereford, its church spires and the Cathedral tower, which nestle in the middle-distance.
The Wye Bank at Warham
This is a view of one of the water meadows along the river Wye, a short distance from Brian’s home in Broomy Hill. The artist is looking eastwards across the river, which runs at the foot of the wooded bank, known as ‘Hunderton Rough’. The handling of the paint suggests that this is a ‘sketch’ worked in the open-air. This simple composition is aims to capture the light and mood of the scene. Brian made other more finished pictures of the same view which include grazing cattle.
Study of a lane and barn
Oil Painting, 1911
This is probably a view down one of the lanes in Warham or Breinton, Herefordshire, close to Hatton’s home in Broomy Hill. If the trees were elm trees they would have been felled at the height of Dutch elm disease in the 1970’s, making this view-point difficult to identify. The shed on the right hand side would have been used for storing carts and farm implements.
Evening at Warham
Oil Painting, 1913
This striking view of a gypsy woman working in the field, picks up on a theme explored by the French artist Jean Francois Millet, of the noble peasant and the dignity of labour. After a long day in the fields, pulling turnips by hand, this woman stands to stretch her back, silhouetted against the winter evening sky. The long bladed bill hook in her hand has been used to remove the green tops from the heavy roots, which are thrown into a pile beside her. Brian conveys the physical and spiritual strength of this statuesque figure, overcoming the harshness and drudgery of her toil, in a cold February landscape. Even the pile of turnips has a monumental quality in the slanting sunlight casting long evening shadows. Brian’s handling of the paint emphasises the contrast between the large leafed plants in the field, and the shadowy trees in the middle distance. This view is looking south-west across the wooded valley of the river Wye not far from Brian’s home in Hereford.
The photographs were stimulated during the centenary year of Brian Hatton by attendance on an organised walk: the Brian Hatton Trail led by Robin Thorndyke.
and thanks are offered to Herefordshire County Council’s Museums and Collections Service to show the images of paintings they hold on this website – please contact email@example.com if you wish to use these images and where there is a superb resource of materials—articles, reproductions of paintings, educational materials and more. Herefordshire County Council curates the bulk of the more than 1,000 works by Hatton, supported by volunteers, and the original paintings can be viewed by arrangement.
Robin Thorndyke is a practising modern artist and historian whose wealth of knowledge supports our understanding of Hatton’s world. Robin presents workshops for artists and conducts walks on the Brian Hatton Trail. Thanks are also offered to Robin for his knowledge and enthusiasm in Brian Hatton’s memory.
A biography of Brian Hatton can be sourced, authored by Celia Davies (1978)
Finally, this attractive stone fronted house is where Brian spent his childhood.