The oil on board pictured below has recently been found by Mark Ponting , the owner of Blondes Fine Art . It had been in the hands of a collector in South Wales for its entire life but following her death the opportunity arose for it to be returned to the Herts/Essex borders from where it originated.
Here at Blondes Fine Art we have long been great fans of the Great Bardfield group of artists. In a combination of proximity to the village itself , the wonderful Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden , and the iconic work of the artists themselves we find ourselves constantly drawn to the imagery of such greats as Edward Bawden, Richard Bawden, Eric Ravilious , Michael Rothenstein, Walter and Denise Hoyle and George Chapman to name but a few. Indeed, the group was larger than the few mentioned above and changed over time as they ebbed and flowed from the village over a period of some 50 years, however, one of their number remained there throughout his life.
John Aldridge RA first moved to Gt Bardfield in 1933 the same year that John Piper identified him as one of the young up and coming artists of the era who had "unprejudiced vision" and he remained living at Place House until his death in 1986.During the 1950's the artists held open house exhibitions in 1951,54,55 and 58 which attracted thousands of people from all over the country. Following the commercial success of these they sent an exhibition down to the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol in 1959. This particular work pictured here called ' The Moors, Great Bardfield' dates from March 1955 and depicts a set of trees that was previously a subject of Aldridge's work in 1947 "Burnt trees in snow" which is reproduced on page 20 of the new book on the Bardfield artists edited by Gill Saunders and Malcolm Yorke. Clearly it was a winter image that had an interesting structure and in many ways defines the light and landscape of rural Essex on a crisp winters day.
What makes this image of particular significance is that it was the one chosen by John Aldridge to have displayed on his easel when his photographic portrait was taken in his Great Bardfield studio by ,one of the leading photographers of the time ,Geoffrey Ireland.Geoffrey Ireland was a photographer and writer born in 1923. He studied at the Lancaster School of Art under Ronald Grimshaw and then at the Royal College of Art, where in 1953 he was appointed the tutor for graphic design. With Bawden, Ravilious , Rothenstein and Aldridge having strong teaching links to the RCA it is perhaps not a surprise that Ireland came out to photograph them . The collection of these iconic photographs and of other RCA artists are now in the National Portrait gallery collection.
So this painting was subsequently sold in an exhibition and led a quiet life in Wales for the last 60 years,until recently found by Blondes Fine Art of Much Hadham , Hertfordshire. It has been subject to a professional light clean to remove surface dirt and now , still in its original frame , looks like it was painted last week! We feel privileged to now have in our personal collection what is perhaps the most important work by John Aldridge.