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Stonehenge by Henry Mark Anthony (1817-1886)
Henry Mark Anthony (1817-1886) was considered in his time the second best British landscape artist after John Constable. He exhibited at many major art institutions and travelled widely, being credited with being one of the first to introduce to Britain the en plein air style of painting advocated by the Impressionists – Monet, Pissarro and Renoir. Working outdoors and direct from nature, he painted on the large scale, introducing into painted landscape melancholic mood, nostalgic feelings, and atmospheric effects often enhanced by the light of dawn or early evening. However, new developments in British art after 1860, and his failure to be elected to the Royal Academy, led to a solitary later career.
The above depiction of Stonehenge and a number of his other works can be seen at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
The Giant, Cerne Abbas in 1790 by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm
The god is a graffito carved on the belly of the chalk,
his savage gesture subdued by the stuff of his creation.
He is taken up like a gaunt white doll by the round hills,
wrapped around by the long pale hair of the fields.
Taken from Jeremy Hooker’s book of poems titled
“Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant”
The Constable and Salisbury exhibition currently being held at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum is quite a coup for the county. John Constable (1776-1837) visited Salisbury seven times, with more sketches and paintings arising than from anywhere beyond the countryside he had known since childhood. A host of the artist’s Wiltshire and Dorset paintings are on show in this exhibition, for which an entrance time needs to be booked. Both Constable’s and Turner’s paintings of Stonehenge are on display, although not side by side.
Following this lead perhaps English Heritage could bring them together for the opening of the new visitor centre?
A Group of Barrows upon Overton hill by William Stukeley
Trethevy Stone by Charles Knight: circa 1845.
At the moor’s crown
Thin Field, hard-won, turns on
The Puzzle of Stones.
Lying in dreamtime here
Knees dragged to chin,
With dagger, food and drink -
Who was that one?
None shall know, says bully blackbird.
Cools in lost sun.
Under furze bank, yarrow
Sinks the drowned mine.
By spoil dump and bothy
Down the moor spine
Hear long-vanished voices
Now they are all gone, says bully blackbird.
Their dole of song.
From churchtown the tractor
Stammers, is dumb.
In the wilderness house
Of granite, thorn,
Ask where are those who came.
Ask why we come.
Home, says bully blackbird,
Where is home?
Charles Causley (1917-2003).
Reproduced with kind permission of Stonehenge Collectables
How things have changed! Back then no-one was too worried about the conservation of either Stonehenge or Wildlife but just 17 years later we had the first Act protecting Ancient Monuments so Stonehenge started to be safeguarded. Wildlife had to wait rather longer for even partial immunity from the above sort of thing - it was the twenty first century before the Hunting Act was passed.
Now, the Countryside Alliance and a lot of MPs are leading a campaign to repeal the Act and go back to the attitudes of 1865 or earlier. If you read the Countryside Alliance’s website, publications and speeches it quickly becomes evident that they would like to have the legal right to hunt down and rip apart almost anything in the fields that has a pulse. May they not get what they want!
“John Speed (1552–1629) was born at Farndon, Cheshire, and went into his father’s tailoring business where he worked until he was about 50. While working in London, his knowledge of history led him into learned circles and he joined the Society of Antiquaries where his interests came to the attention of Sir Fulke Greville, who subsequently made Speed an allowance to enable him to devote his whole attention to research. As a reward for his earlier efforts, Queen Elizabeth granted him the use of a room in the Custom House. It was with the encouragement of William Camden that he began his Historie of Great Britaine, which was published in 1611. Although Speed probably had access to historical sources that are now lost to us he certainly used the work of Saxton and Norden, his work as a historian is considered mediocre and secondary in importance to his map-making, of which his most important contribution is probably his town plans, many of which provide the first visual record of the British towns they depict.”
Next Summer, to mark the 200th anniversary of Constable’s arrival in Salisbury, the city’s museum will stage the Constable & Salisbury Exhibition which will see a multi-million pound collection brought together from both private owners and major art museums.
Of particular significance will be the opportunity to see one of his most famous works, his depiction of Stonehenge.
Constable visited Stonehenge in 1820 where he made a sketch that was eventually worked up into this famous watercolour for his last exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1836.
It carries the caption:
“The mysterious monument… standing remote on a bare and boundless heath, as much unconnected with the events of the past as it is with the uses of the present, carries you back beyond all historical records into the obscurity of a totally unknown period’.