Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Wonderful Art of Cecil Aldin

Since we've gone British this week, let's continue the trend by reviewing the work of one of my favorite Brits, Cecil Aldin.  Born Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin in 1870 he became known for his paintings of animals, sports, rural life, including a lot of inns.  His name sounds British don't you think?

He studied anatomy and his early influences included Randolph Caldecott and John Leech.  Interestingly, his illustrations include two of the original 1894 magazine publications of stories from Kipling's The Second Jungle Book and the 1910 edition of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers.

His work has become highly collectable and it's not really expensive as most of his work is available in prints.  Some are signed, in pencil.  There is a printed signature always present on Aldin's prints whether he signed them personally or not. It looks like this:

Many of his works are humorous (in a British sort of way) and he drew day-to-day events in which he was involved or a witness.  Hunting was his first love.

You can also find his work on china but these pieces are very hard to find.  Burleighware made a series.  Here is a tea pot, for example:

He also published an amazing number of books and illustrated many others for children.  The "bible" for Cecil Aldin is "The Story of a Sporting Artist" by Roy Heron.  You can find it on the Web but it is not inexpensive.

Aldin published his first set of hunting prints, The Fallowfield Hunt, in 1899.  He later became Master of the South Berkshire Hunt. He was a keen huntsman and many of prints depict fox hunting scenes in Britain.  He also rode point-to-point, organized horse shows, and even designed two London stage shows for him impresario brother.

He slowly developed arthritis in his hands which slowed his painting and was finally forced to give up hunting and move to a warmer climate.  In 1930 he and his wife moved to Majorca but in 1934 they returned to England. On the boat back to England he had a massive heart attack and on arriving in London he was taken to the hospital where he died on January 6, 1935.

Aldin painted mostly in watercolor and he is known for his caricature in his work.  He loved dogs and you'll find many of his prints today on Ebay and other auction sites.  He had a delightful sense of humor which shows in his work.   Some of his equestrian portraits are quite large, 5' x 6' and in his last years he produced some fine etchings in limited editions.   He is regarded as one of the most original and very best sporting artists of the 20th century.

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