Ernest Higgins Rigg

Sunset Swaledale

Ernest Higgins Rigg

Sunset Swaledale

This early 20th-century oil painting by British artist Ernest Higgins Rigg (1868-1947) depicts a view in Swaledale, Yorkshire, with a sunset.

While in Paris training at the Académie Julian, Rigg became influenced by the French Impressionists. He embraced their passion for painting outdoors, their rapid brushwork, and their obsession for capturing the fleeting effects of light. However, back in Britain, the formal art scene was less welcoming of the new French approach, so he found himself caught between two worlds. Looking back across his body of works, there’s a clear division between his finer traditional British paintings and his looser ‘plein air’ rural daubs.

Here we see an example of the latter - an electrifying sunset amid a changeable overcast sky, captured in swift impressionistic marks. Within a few minutes, the light probably altered, changing the view entirely. Rigg worked quickly to record the moment impressing upon us a brilliant orange light cutting through the clouds - akin to a fireball.

On the reverse, hidden under a board, we discovered an old label with a handwritten inscription. It refers to a hymn by the Reverend Godfrey Thring, which Rigg has associated with this view.

The radiant morn hath passed away,
And spent too soon her golden store;
The shadows of departing day
Creep on once more.

Our life is but an autumn sun,
Its glorious noon how quickly past;
Lead us, O Christ, our life-work done,
Safe home at last.

O by thy soul-inspiring grace
Uplift our hearts to realms on high;
Help us to look to that bright place
Beyond the sky, A-men.

Where light, and life, and joy, and peace
In undivided empire reign,
And thronging angels never cease
Their deathless strain;

Where saints are clothed in spotless white,
And evening shadows never fall,
Where thou, eternal Light of light,
Art Lord of all.

Signed in the lower right and held within a 19th-century gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on board
Overall size: 23” x 17” / 58cm x 43cm
Year of creation: c. 1910
Labels & Inscriptions: Gallery label on the reverse with inscriptions.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £13,658

Ernest Higgins Rigg

Ernest Higgins Rigg

Rigg studied at the Bradford School of Art and later at the Academie Julian in Paris. He was a founding member of the Staithes Art Club and worked in a circle of artists including Harold and Dame Laura Knight. He exhibited widely including at the Royal Academy, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and the Royal Society of British Artists. His works are held in various public collections such as Bradford Museum and Sheffield Museum.

Learn more about Ernest Higgins Rigg in our directory.

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