Gathering Cockles – Gravelines
by John Edward Brett


GBP Pound Sterling

Country of origin: England

Medium: Oil on canvas

Signed: Signed and dated 4th July 1896 lower right

Dated: 1896

Condition: Very good original condition

Size: 7.00" x 14.00" (17.8cm x 35.6cm)

Framed size: 13.00" x 20.00" (33.0cm x 50.8cm)

Provenance: The artist’s studio sale, Christie’s, London, 15 February 1902, lot 62, where bought by ‘McLean’
Rev. W. Waite
Christie’s, 23 January 1904, lot 124, bought by ‘Collings’
Bonhams, London, 6 August 1964, lot 103
G. Welby-Everard
Knight, Frank & Rutley, London, 29 June 1967, lot 16
Sotheby’s, London, 29 May 1968, lot 153
Norman Bragg
Maas Gallery, London where purchased by Lord Dayton and thence to his niece in 2003
Sotheby's London

Further information

In 1896 John Brett and his wife Mary went to Paris, the first time the artist had been abroad since 1870. After attending the Salon in Paris where one of John Brett’s paintings was exhibited, the Bretts travelled along the Normandy coast but little of interest inspired him. However one painting from this holiday is this delightful scene painted on the beach at Gravelines, which is unusual for depicting so many lively figures catching shrimps and gathering cockles. As has been noted; ‘The deep purple of the sky contrasts effectively with the pale sand, where the reflections in the sandpools are freely and fluently painted. This sketch, and some other works surviving from this year, show that Brett was experimenting with a modified form of Impressionism in his last years…’ (Christiana Payne and Charles Brett, John Brett – Pre-Raphaelite Landscape Painter, 2010, p.175)

Artist biography

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John Edward Brett was a follower of the Pre-Raphaelite School. His work before 1870 showed its influence. In 1858, he visited the region of Val d'Aosta and settled at the castle of St Peter in Villeneuve. Here he received a visit from Ruskin, of whom he was a great admirer. During his stay in the Val d'Aosta, he painted a great number of landscapes, notably of the Dora Baltac Valley.

Searching later for a different expression, he dedicated himself to the picturesque form of beauty and studied the south coast of England and northern France. Here he drew the themes for his most beautiful maritime landscapes.

He often exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, of which he was an associate.

Group Exhibitions

2000, A Dream of the Past: Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Movement Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings from the Lanigan Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Birmingham (Mus. and AG): A North-West Gale off the Longships Lighthouse (oil on canvas); Caernavon (oil on canvas); watercolours
Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Mus.): Landscape (1852, oil on millboard); Rocky Coast Scene (1872, oil on millboard)
Cape Town: Trevose Head (Cornwall)
Cardiff (Nat. Gallery of Wales): Caernarvon (1875, oil on canvas); The Stronghold of the Seison and the Camp of Kittywake (1879, oil on canvas); Forest Cove, Cardigan Bay (1883, oil on canvas)
Liverpool: View of Trier
Liverpool (Walker AG): The Stonebreaker (c. 1857-1858, oil on canvas)
London (Tate Collection): Glacier of Rosenlaui (1856, oil on canvas); Florence from Bellosguardo (1863, oil on canvas); Lady with a Dove: Madame Loeser (1864, oil on canvas, full-length portrait); The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (1871, oil on canvas); Britannia's Realm (1880, oil on canvas); two other landscapes
Manchester (City AG): Seascape (1881, oil on canvas); The Norman Archipelago (in the Channel Islands) (1885, oil on canvas)
New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Kynance (1888)
Oxford (Ashmolean Mus.): Kennack Sands, Cornwall, at Low Tide (1877, oil on board); Mrs Coventry Patmore (oil on card)
Sunderland: Procession of Small Craft Heading for Bristol in Foggy Weather
Sydney: Lion, Lizard and Stags