[1] The Wye at Lancant, oil on canvas, 1934
© Royal Academy of Arts, London


[2] The Mill Pool at Painswick, oil on board, 1945
© Royal Academy of Arts, London


[3] The Blue Lake at Sierre, tempera on silk laid on canvas, 1938
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

Artist of the Month - August 2015

  

Charles Gere, RA (1869-1957)


Charles Gere was born in Gloucester and trained at the Birmingham School of Art under E.R. Taylor, becoming part of a group of artist-craftsmen known as 'The Birmingham Group', who were inspired by the work of Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. They admired the art and style of the medieval period and specialised in a range of craft techniques, particularly in tempera painting which experienced a revival among the Birmingham school of artists.

For a period Gere practiced in portrait painting, book illustration, stained glass and embroidery design, but gradually came to work almost exclusively as a landscape painter.

In 1904 he settled in Gloucestershire, and aside from occasional trips to North Italy and Switzerland, his main focus was views of the Cotswolds countryside [1]. Inspired by the landscapes of Edward Calvert and Samuel Palmer, Gere's work exhibits a fresh and reverent depiction of nature while the simple, flat linear forms suggest an Eastern aesthetic in keeping with his Arts and Crafts training [2].

Gere specialised in the use of tempera as a medium, a technique favoured by Italian Renaissance painters and which he was inspired to use after a visit to Florence. Much of Gere's tempera work is painted on silk, indicating the refinement he achieved in this medium, a fine example being his Diploma work The Blue Lake at Sierre [3]. This was probably painted from sketches made on a tour of Switzerland in the summer of 1938. Tempera is made using a mixture of egg with pigment and is most suited as a studio medium, as it dries much faster that oil paint and must be applied quickly to the painting's surface. Therefore Gere would make pencil sketches outdoors in front of his chosen subject and trained his memory to work from these when completing the work in the studio afterwards. Gere has taken advantage of the effect of his medium on the absorbent material, using swift brushstrokes to create textured patterns and strokes.

Gere's work unites the two aesthetic traditions of English landscape painting and the Arts and Crafts movement; his tempera painting was described as 'aglow with the sunlight of the South' while his situation in the heart Gloucestershire proved his true vocation as a landscape painter in the spirit of the English poetic tradition.