British artist, George Clare (1835-1890), captured nature’s bounty with such detail that it appeared good enough to eat. While many of his contemporaries were focusing on the landscape, he was foraging through the hedgerows searching for inspiration.
I enjoy Clare’s work a great deal as it reminds me of country walks and the array of fruit we have on our doorstep. He paints berries, grapes, apples and damsons that tumble from baskets and rest within leafy foliage.
Recently, I acquired a beautiful unsigned work ‘attributed to’ George Clare from an auction in the USA, which is full of colour and vibrancy.
As you may know, when the description of a painting includes the phrase ‘attributed to’ it translates as ‘probably by’ rather than ‘definitely by’ the artist. Here’s a quick reminder of the various terminologies.
- By… Created by the artist’s own hand.
- Attributed to… Probably by the artist but this cannot be guaranteed.
- Workshop/studio… Created by someone working alongside the artist in their workshop or studio - e.g. an assistant or apprentice.
- Circle of… Created by someone within the circle of the artist - e.g. they lived at the same time and could've known them personally.
- Follower of… Created by an admirer of the artist either during their lifetime or after.
With attributions, it’s always worth undertaking your own research, particularly when a paper trail isn't available (which it usually isn’t). In this instance, the only way to form an educated opinion was to check the piece closely against other works by the artist. There are plenty to view online, although in person is always better, and here’s a small selection.
What do you think? Does our fit in?
For me, I can see similarities, particularly in the foliage behind. However, there are differences in the rendering of the fruit and particularly the basket, which brings doubt. The colouring is different too.
It’s interesting to note that George Clare had two sons that painted in a similar style.
Oliver Clare (1852-1927)
Vincent Clare (1855-1925)
Again, these are different. Oliver Clare is closer but still not right. In addition, our painting is older and dates to around 1860. Plus, there’s the possibility of a faint signature in the lower right, which doesn’t relate to any of the Clares.
So with this in mind, I've concluded that the work is by someone living at the same time as George Clare that perhaps knew him personally or was certainly influenced by him. Hence the revised description - ‘Circle Of George Clare’.
Either way, it’s an accomplished piece and would grace any wall. A taste of the British countryside with an abundance of colour.