Henry Towneley Green, An Interesting Read

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Henry Towneley Green, An Interesting Read

Regular price £795.00
Unit price
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This late 19th-century watercolour by English artist Henry Towneley Green (1836-1899) depicts two smartly attired gentlemen immersed in a fascinating book within a study interior. The outfits date to circa 1780 and the shoes are a feast for the eyes.

Henry Towneley Green was known predominantly for his illustrations in various magazines including ‘Once a Week’ and the ‘Cornhill Magazine’. He remains underrated as a draughtsman but clearly possessed extraordinary ability. While researching this piece, we discovered several letters by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) extolling his virtues.

In 1882 in a letter to friend and fellow artist Anthon Gerard Alexander van Rappard (1858-1892) he wrote: “I’ve found another two woodcuts for you, one by Miss Edwards and one by Green. The latter is particularly fine: a painter working on a shop sign while people watch, in the age of Louis xvi.”

He’s probably referring to a wood engraving produced for a magazine or newspaper.

In 1883, again to Rappard, he wrote:

“I can tell you that I’ve found an uncommonly beautiful print by T. Green, the brother or something of C.G. It’s a party at the Foundling Hospital in London, a sort of orphan girls at the table. Oh, you’ll be in raptures over it. Also by him a smaller ‘A city congregation’, so delicately drawn, as exquisitely done as Braemar by our friend J. McL.R.” He refers to Henry Towneley Green as T. Green and C.G. is his brother, Charles Green (1840-1898), an illustrator at The Graphic magazine.

In the same year, in letters to his brother Theo, he alludes to meeting Green along with other artists. It’s been suggested that Vincent was looking for work as an illustrator and keen to learn new techniques.

“I would think it advisable to go to London myself with studies and drawings and to look up the managers of the various organisations, or preferably the draughtsmen Herkomer, Green, Boughton (some, however, are in America at present) or others, if they’re in London. And would be able to get information about processes better there than elsewhere.”

And in a further letter, he continues: “Theo, when you come to the studio I’ll be able to show you some things that you’ll most certainly not be able to see all together anywhere else. I could show you some things that one might call the hundred masterpieces of modern wood engraving. Work by people whose names, even, are totally unknown to most art lovers.

Who knows of Buckman, who knows of the two Greens, who knows of Régamey’s drawings? Only a few. Seeing them all together, one is astonished by that steadiness of the drawing, that personal character, that seriousness of approach, and that fathoming and presentation of the most everyday figures and subjects found on the street, on the market, in a hospital or orphanage.”

The last reference appears in a letter to Theo during a darker period. Vincent is suggesting that he should wait until his mental health has improved before meeting the Green brothers.

“I am as my work is, and you must take this into consideration a little. I don’t know whether or not you think it would be better to see someone like Herkomer, Green or Small, for instance, now or to wait until both the work and I myself have calmed down. I’d be in favour of the latter.”

Signed, framed and glazed.

Learn more about Henry Towneley Green in our directory.

Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 14” x 17” / 36cm x 43cm
Year of creation: 1875
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction highlight: £3,200 achieved for a watercolour in 1999.

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