Robin Darwin’s painting depicts a tranquil scene on the river Eure at Pont de l’Arche, a mediaeval town in rural Normandy. He uses an impressionist style of dabbed and blended brushstrokes in warm tones of green, gold and grey, to build the landscape around a scene of two figures fishing from a small boat. Darwin produced this work in 1949, most likely during the summer break from his post at Principal of the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London.
Robin Darwin was born in London into a family of illustrious cultural and scientific figures. His great-grandfather was Charles Darwin (1809–1882), the famous English naturalist and author of ‘The Origin of the Species’, whose own grandfather had been Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), the renowned English potter.
Darwin studied at Eton College and the University of Cambridge, before enrolling at the Slade School of Art, London. After graduating, he began his teaching career at Watford Grammar School and at Eton.
During the Second World War, Darwin designed camouflage, and worked for the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. After the War had ended, he was appointed Professor of Fine Art at Durham University, until 1948, when he was made Principal of the RCA. He held this position until 1967, when the College attained university status and he became Rector. Up to 1971, in this role, he introduced a broader range of subject disciplines; implemented new administrative and academic systems, all of which strengthened the prestige of the College.
After leaving the RCA, Darwin was elected President of the Royal West of England Academy; and he was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1972. Previously, he had been awarded a CBE in 1954, and a knighthood in 1964.
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