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About this item
Watercolor on paper. Signed lower right.
Biography Philip Grégory NEEDELL
Born in 1886 in the northern suburbs of London, Philip Grégory Needell must have been interested in art and photography from an early age. But at the end of his schooling, his father up to the "London and Westminster Bank" financial institution that will leave during the 2 th World War for health reasons. A banker, Needell nevertheless remained attracted to painting, and he attended drawing lessons at the Régent Street Polytechnic in London.
His first works date from the 14-18 war. Helmsman on the auxiliary cruiser Almanzora, he sails in both hemispheres and some of these early paintings are from Iceland and South America. His companions also ordered him entertainment scenes from the ship and the captain, a painting from the Almanzora. The original of this and other works from this period are at the Royal naval Museum in Portsmouth.
The 1920s saw the start of a prolific period. It was also the start of a series of numerous trips to France, where each time he visited, he felt like he was coming home. He stayed there almost twenty times from 1925 to 1963 both in the south of the Loire and in the north, with favorite cities: Montreuil-sur-Mer, Honfleur and Les Andelys which he cracks on paper or canvas.
In the years following the First World War, Needell expressed himself through drawing and watercolor. For specialists, his best watercolors date from this time; superb landscapes symbolically painted in wise tones.
Essentially a landscape designer, Needell admitted that he had been influenced by the great masters: William Turner, who could not grasp any canvas better, the vividness of the color, the light of nature, Velasquez, Cotman and Utrillo.
Needell's early works were undoubtedly influenced by the great English landscape painters of the 19th century. Gérald Schurr, renowned critic, in his volume 5 of "little masters of painting 1820-1920", writes about it: "(he) ... uniformly spreads, like Cotman, a color well enclosed in the fauna, exhausting like Turner , all the resources of light ”. An opinion shared by Robert Tuffier who devoted his picture rails to Needell on numerous occasions: “His first works were marked by the landscape painters of the English School of the 19th century. The analysis of his paintings reveals the great accuracy and the meticulousness of his drawing. He respects the plans a lot but only very rarely relies on a "foreground", thus creating great pictorial difficulty ". We could speak of a "Victorian" style. His favorite palette is based on black-ivory, yellow ocher, titanium white either with burnt sienna and cobalt blue or with burnt shade and
Needell worked meticulously, developing his interpretation of landscapes through several planes. Each landscape is of great realism and as yet written Gerald Schurr "realistic but hostile to ANEC endows the painter gives way to the pure landscape, treated values very thin on generally colored backgrounds."
In the same 1920s and early 1930s, Needell created his own printmaking technique. Seventeen of his best works are exhibited in the print cabinet of the British-Museum.
In 1943, for health reasons, he left London and Westminster Bank and now devoted himself entirely to his art. He again studies the great masters from which he learns while being himself. His drawing evolves towards a greater visual abstraction, his colors blend. To achieve a finished work, Needell soaked up the landscape and worked on it in stages. All the paintings of this period and the last years of his life, were finished in his workshop from notes he had taken on the spot at the origin and which progressed from drawing in pencil, in wash, in watercolor or gouache, until the preliminary painting before the final painting in oil.