Landscape, Rolvenden No.1

William Townsend (1909 - 1973)

Oil on canvas

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  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall

    This painting by William Townsend depicts a cluster of houses located between a field in the foreground and gentle rolling hills in the  distance. The image evokes a soft lyricism, which is underpinned by a tight structure of rhythm and movement, an organising principle that clearly shows the influence of late 19th century painter, Paul Cézanne. Similarly, the use of blocks of colour, which are not completely naturalistic (the large white space of the field; his use of blue for the trees and hills for example), together with Townsend’s loose brushstrokes, also suggest an influence of the post-Impressionist painter.  

    During his lifetime Townsend was a leading figure in British landscape painting. His work, like that of his contemporary Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), hovers on the cusp between abstraction and  figuration, attempting to give a real sense of  what it felt like to be part of the changing moods and seasons of the English  countryside. 

    This scene depicts Rolvenden, Kent, where Townsend lived from 1949.


  • About the artist
    William Townsend, painter, was born in London and studied at the Slade School of Art between 1926 and 1929. He held his first solo exhibition at the Bloomsbury Gallery in 1931, and served as a battery officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. From 1946 until 1949 Townsend taught part-time at Camberwell School of Art, before joining the teaching staff at the Slade School of Art, becoming Senior Lecturer in 1957. During the 1960s he focused more on journalism, for instance, broadcasting programmes on the BBC about townscapes. From 1966 he was head of painting at the Banff School, Alberta, Canada, and from 1968, he was Professor at University College London, responsible for the postgraduate department at the Slade. He died in Banff in 1973. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were held at the Tate Gallery (1976) and the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol (1978). His work can be found in the Tate Collection.
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    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Title
    Landscape, Rolvenden No.1
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 90.00 cm, width: 120.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from the Slade School of Fine Art, May 1958
    Inscription
    br: Townsend
    GAC number
    4623