H. Ratcliffe: Wales, Yorkshire and the Lakes

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This exceptional collection of drawings and paintings, mainly in pen and ink with watercolour, is by an artist by the name of ‘H. Ratcliffe’ of Bradford. Dedicated to the pristine beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the coastal scenes around Anglesey in North Wales, these works show a highly skilled and dedicated hand, combining fine details in ink with broad, experimental watercolours that create a pleasing combination between the natural and the creative.

Though these works come to us undated, there are a number of stylistic elements to the works that indicate they were likely produced in the early twentieth-century. For example, the unusually bright, sometimes unnatural colouring in some of the landscapes was a common feature of works produced by artists in the Camden Town Group, such as Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman and Augustus John. The Camden Town Group also similarly combined city or landscape imagery with off kilter or tightly focused angles, which combined with the prismatic colouring, gave a typically ‘natural’ or simple scene an element of intriguing detail or visual interest. Our artist here uses similar elements - at some points creating an intense focus on simple line and monochromatic colour, or using highly detailed ink work dappled by bright, optical colour.

Vibrant, skilled and engaging, this is a collection that provides a refreshing new take on the typically earthy Romanticism that prevailed in the previous century’s watercolour landscapes.