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The Burrell Collection brings the Masterworks of Joseph Crawhall to the Fleming Collection

Joseph Crawhall, The Greyhound, c.1884, The Burrell Collection © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Exhibition preview

THE Burrell Collection, Glasgow, and the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, London, have announced the exhibition Joseph Crawhall: Masterworks from The Burrell Collection, which will take place at the Fleming Collection, 13 Berkeley Street, London, from February 4 to March 12, 2016.

The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see 23 of the finest works by one of the country’s most accomplished yet lesser known artists, Joseph Crawhall (1861–1913).

Although sparsely represented in the UK’s large national collections, and little known outside of Scotland, during his lifetime Joseph Crawhall exhibited alongside Degas and Whistler, the latter declaring of the English-born artist: “I believe Crawhall to have been the truest artist of the Glasgow men, and, as far as I know, the best in England.”

With over 140 works by Crawhall at the Burrell Collection, this is the first time in twenty-five years that works by the artist, on loan from the Burrell, will be seen in London.

This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to trace Crawhall’s development and range as an artist, one whose technical brilliance was so admired by shipping magnate and collector Sir Willliam Burrell, that there are more works by Joseph Crawhall in the Burrell Collection than by any other painter. As reported by Studio magazine (1921), ‘If you were to offer Mr Burrell a Degas, he would probably ponder long before deciding to purchase… but if you offered him a Crawhall he would succumb at once.’

Although born in Northumberland, Joseph Crawhall has always been identified as a leader of the radical group of young Scottish painters known as the Glasgow Boys, which revolutionised landscape painting in the 1880s.

In his maturity, Crawhall won national and international acclaim with his watercolours and gouaches on linen of animals and birds, executed with all the accomplishment of his contemporaries such as Sargent, Whistler and Lavery. Such mastery placed Crawhall at the heart of the 1890s zeitgeist.

Sir Angus Grossart, Chair of Burrell Renaissance comments: “Even amongst contemporaries including Sargent, Whistler and Lavery, the sheer quality and strength of works by Joseph Crawhall acquired by Sir William, is an example of this great collector’s passion and acumen.”

Director of the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, James Knox, says: “Joseph Crawhall’s work will come as a revelation. His dazzling paintings are testament to the artistic ferment of the 1890s with their emphasis on beauty, technique, design and dandiacal subject matter. His work can be seen as the pictorial equivalent of the brilliant wordplay of Oscar Wilde. It is a great privilege to introduce his work to a wider public, fulfilling one of our Foundation’s key goals of furthering the understanding and fame of Scottish art outside Scotland.”

James Robinson, Director of Burrell Renaissance says: “Our collaboration with the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation illustrates how we are unlocking the great potential of the Burrell Collection. We are delighted to be able to share the works of Joseph Crawhall in London for the first time in 25 years. As one of the most accomplished artists of his generation, this exhibition reflects our ambition to shine an international spotlight on the unique works held within our Collection.”

Councillor Archie Graham, the Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, says: “The Burrell Collection is an international flagship for Glasgow, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to share the works of one of our much-loved artists, Joseph Crawhall, with a wider audience. As The Burrell Collection embarks on an innovative programme that will transform it into an exemplar of a 21st century museum, we look forward to many more opportunities to share our City’s great collection.”

Joseph Crawhall (1861–1913) was born at Morpeth, Northumberland. A natural draughtsman, he learnt from his artistic family and at school, only attending art school in Paris for a year. His youthful collaboration with Glasgwegian contemporaries E. A. Walton and James Guthrie marked him out as one of the founders of the Glasgow Boys.

Although Crawhall exhibited an oil painting at the R.A. in 1883, he soon dropped oils for watercolours and occasionally pastel, and increasingly dedicated his art to painting animals and birds. For many years, Crawhall wintered in Tangiers, which also influenced his choice of subject. A perfectionist, he destroyed much his work – the Burrell Collection owns some 140 examples out of the 400 works known to exist.

International recognition for Crawhall came in the 1890s with exhibitions in Europe and America. He died in 1913, aged 52.

Image: Joseph Crawhall, The Greyhound, c.1884, The Burrell Collection © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm.

Fleming Collection, 13 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8DU

Tel: +44 (0)20 7042 5730