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Kenneth Rowntree (1915-1997):
Sky, Sea, North Umber, 1981
Framed (ref: 4005)
Acrylic on board
20.1 x 14.6 in. (51 x 37 cm)
Provenance: The Artist's Family
Literature: John Milner, Kenneth Rowntree, Lund Humphries, 2002, p.75, illustrated (pl.70); Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition, Moore-Gwyn Fine Art and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, 2015, Cat. 54, p.101
Exhibited: possibly Davies Memorial Gallery and Oriel 31, Welshpool, Kenneth Rowntree, June–October 1992, cat no.32 (dated in error to 1952?); Fry Art Gallery, Kenneth Rowntree, A Centenary Exhibition, 2015, no 33
In retirement, Rowntree found a new studio in Beaufort village, a few miles from his house in Northumberland.... Rowntree remained inventive.... Relief lettering formed the succinct verbal/visual landscape Sky Sea North Umber, depicting a coastal scene through four words and four bands of colour (one of them raw umber) reusing the fragment Umber with North to suggest Northumberland.
John Milner, Kenneth Rowntree, Lund Humphries, 2002, p.75
In 1959, Rowntree became Professor of Fine Art at Durham University and it was there that he came into contact with Victor Pasmore, precipitating a further 90° turn in his work. During the 1960s and 1970s, he created a series of bright, hard-edged, geometric, non-figurative works, often incorporating lettering, either painted or collaged. He also delighted in recycling and reworking objets trouvés and bits of old packing cases, complete with stencilled names and addresses.
Despite this, he never totally relinquished his earlier Romantic vision, switching back, albeit in a more simplified vein, when the mood took him, as in such 1980s works as Findochty and Falling Rain with Raised Flag. The Naming of Parts, a beguilingly playful late landscape painted close to his Northumberland home at Acomb, is variously inscribed ‘Victoria Plum’, ‘Holly’, ‘Hawthorn’ and so on, as if it was an illustration to a young person’s manual for the identification of trees. Peyton Skipwith, Stylistic Switchbacks, Country Life, August 2015.