- Oil paint on board
- Support: 462 x 382 mm
frame: 528 x 455 x 18 mm
- Bequeathed by Colonel Christopher Sands 2000, accessioned 2001
Anna Hope Hudson, known as Nan, was an expatriate American who had studied painting in Paris and exhibited her work in France and in London. Hudson became friendly with Walter Sickert after he saw and greatly admired one of her paintings, Le Canal de la Giudecca (untraced), exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1906. She was subsequently invited to participate in the Saturday ‘At Homes’ of the Fitzroy Street Group. Although excluded from joining the Camden Town Group owing to the ban on women, she was once again drawn into the circle of London’s avant-garde when the group reformed in 1913, with additional members, as the London Group.
Few examples of her work now survive. Château d’Auppegard, Tate’s only painting by her, was bequeathed by Christopher Sands, the nephew of Hudson’s lifelong friend and partner, Ethel Sands. It is characteristic of the landscapes the artist produced in later life. Although she did on occasion paint interiors and figure studies, her preference always tended towards landscapes with an element of architectural interest. From 1926 she almost exclusively produced French landscapes, choosing subjects found in the area surrounding Auppegard and Dieppe, or viewed while touring other regions of France during the spring or early autumn.
The painting is a typical example of Hudson’s use of a restricted palette with cool tones. The paint has been applied in broken patches on a cardboard ground with areas of the board left untouched, which serve as an integral part of the pictorial structure. Walter Sickert, who boasted that he was ‘sent from heaven to finish all your educations’,1 and who from around 1907 had appointed himself as artistic mentor to Hudson and Sands, repeatedly tried to coach the former away from this style of painting which he called a ‘flicker of gaps’.2 As in his instruction of all his pupils, Sickert advocated only his own method of painting directly from squared-up drawings, away from the subject, and he counseled Hudson not to paint on any other surface but canvas. Although some of Hudson’s paintings do show evidence of an assimilation of Sickert’s lessons, for example The Violin Solo c.1913 (private collection),3 she never abandoned her liking for painting on board. In this she was probably influenced by the work of the French painter Edouard Vuillard, whom both Hudson and Sands knew personally.4 In about 1890 Vuillard had begun to produce small-scale studies using flat notational touches of pigment on an absorbent cardboard base with the grey or buff of the ground used as a colour in its own right. Hudson’s technique also involved building up the image through broad, choppy brushstrokes of fairly dry paint with the untouched areas incorporated into the overall composition. However, her work is more reminiscent of a relaxed late impressionism, for example, Claude Monet’s paintings of his garden at Giverny, than of Vuillard’s highly decorative and symbolic paintings of interiors.
Quoted in Wendy Baron, Miss Ethel Sands and her Circle, London 1977, p.66.
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, not dated, Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.87.
Reproduced in The Painters of Camden Town 1905–1920, exhibition catalogue, Christie’s, London 1988 (112).
Baron 1977, p.52.
Jacques-Emile Blanche, More Portraits of a Lifetime: 1918–1939, trans. and ed. by Walter Clement, London 1939, p.109.
Walter Sickert, letter to Nan Hudson, undated , Tate Archive TGA 9125/5, no.23.
Tate Archive TGA 9125/5.
Allan Walton, ‘The Château d’Auppegard, a Louis Quatorze Country House’, Vogue, November 1923, pp.48–50.
Simon Watney, ‘The Murals at the Château d’Auppegard’, Charleston Magazine, no.23, Spring/Summer 2001, pp.31–7. A photograph of the château is reproduced on p.34.
Baron 1977, p.163.
Walton 1923, p.49.
Blanche 1939, p.110.
Baron 1977, p.181.
Watney 2001, p.35.
Regina Marler (ed.), Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell, New York 1993, pp.507–8.
Baron 1977, pp.256–8.