[1] Edward Stott ARA, Study for 'The Holy Family', pastel on laid toned paper, ca. 1917
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

[2] Edward Stott ARA, Study of goats, chalk on wove paper
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

[3] Edward Stott ARA, Study for 'The Good Samaritan', pastel and crayon on paper, by 1910
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

[4] Edward Stott ARA, The Carpenter's Shop, oil on board, ca. 1913
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

Artist of the Month - April 2012


Edward Stott ARA (1859-1918)

Described in 1908 as 'the poet-painter of the twilight', the painter and draughtsman Edward Stott was well known in his time for his atmospheric depictions of rural and biblical scenes imbued with an ethereal quality. He was born William Edward Stott on 25 April 1859 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, the son of a mill-owner and mayor of the borough. His family did not want the young Stott to pursue an artistic career, so he instead worked in 'business' for five years in Manchester. During this period, though, he undertook evening classes at Manchester School of Art.

In 1880 Stott moved to Paris, where he first trained at the atelier of the portrait painter Carolus-Duran and then under Alexandre Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1882-83). Without family approval, however, he had little financial assistance, which meant that he was sometimes unable to afford the necessary artistic equipment. While undertaking this quite formal training under two academic artists, Stott also became acquainted with recent developments in French art. Upon his return to England, he was one of a new generation of British artists trained in Paris whose works were inspired by the naturalism of Jules Bastien-Lepage and the Impressionism of Claude Monet.

Impressionism, for Stott, writing in The Art Journal in 1893, 'means a combined impression of the artist's feeling - colour and form with the character of the subject, whether light and delicate, or strong and powerful; in short, a recording of the impression on the painter's nature' (p. 104). To create this combination of subjective feeling and objective recording, Stott would draw many preparatory sketches for a work. His pencil and crayon drawings concentrated on the forms in a composition and his pastel works recorded the colouring. These would be pinned up around his studio while he painted the final piece. Unlike Bastien-Lepage or Monet, who were famed for painting outside directly in front of the subject, Stott moved away from this method, instead working out a composition in drawings from memory before painting the finished work in the studio. There are several examples of these working drawings in the Royal Academy's collection, including the pastel Study for 'The Holy Family' [1], which concentrates on the colouring of a young woman's face and hair in preparation for a larger oil painting.

A critic writing in The Art Journal in 1899 noted that 'Twelve years ago, on a wet, miserable day, [Stott] arrived at Amberley, and there he has remained, and has made the reputation of the village and himself' (p. 296). In Amberley, Stott drew the local people, animals and countryside, prompting a critic from The Magazine of Art to write in 1900 that 'The scenes he pictures from that part of Sussex which he has made his own are so satisfying because of the deep knowledge and intimacy of his outlook on them' (pp. 531-32). A Study of goats [2] illustrates this close attention to detail in its careful consideration of the animals' forms. The sheet also has many pin holes around its edges, which suggest that Stott had it pinned up in his studio to work from. The mystery of the artist's ability to capture the atmospheric effects of nature was voiced by the critic of The Art Journal who wrote that Stott's painted 'canvases are put out into the sun to bake and to gather the dew at night' before they were deemed finished (p. 297).

Stott first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1883 and was elected an Associate Royal Academician in 1906. Around this time his work became more religious, but still retained a strong naturalism. This can be seen in Study for 'The Good Samaritan' [3], where the biblical subject matter is arguably secondary to the artist's concentration on light, landscape and human and animal form.

Stott died on 19 March 1918 and was buried at Amberley. He left £25,000 to the Royal Academy to provide travelling scholarships for art students and to purchase modern pictures. This fund was used to purchase two paintings by Stott, including The Carpenter's Shop [4]. Eight of Stott's works in the Royal Academy's collection were also bequeathed by the painter Carel Weight RA (1908-1997), who was an avid collector of Stott's work.