• Fred Appleyard Spring, 1899, study for mural at the Royal Academy
  • Fred Appleyard The Spirit of the Summit c1910
  • Fred Appleyard Itchen Valley Landscape with Figure c1930

Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard
From the Royal Academy to the Itchen Valley
21 June – 18 September 2024 
The Gallery at The Arc, Winchester

This summer, a major retrospective will rediscover the accomplishments of a British great when Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard, From the Royal Academy to the Itchen Valley opens at The Gallery in The Arc, Winchester. From Friday 21 June to Wednesday 18 September, The Arc will host over 100 works from both private and public collections by one of the finest painters Britain has produced in the last two centuries: Fred Appleyard (1874 - 1963). 

Surprisingly, the name Fred Appleyard is not as well-known as it should be. Originally hailing from Middlesbrough, as a student, Appleyard was adorned by prizes including the Landseer Scholarship, the Turner Gold Medal and the Creswick Prize amongst others. He won a competition in 1899 where the given subject was “Spring driving away Winter”. His award-winning watercolour was eventually commissioned for a full-scale mural version at the Royal Academy. The original study will be on display for the first time in the exhibition. 

But 150 years after his birth, the legacy of Fred Appleyard has at times been under threat, in danger of being lost to art history. Now, this exhibition will chart the brilliance of an extensive career: spanning Pre-Raphaelite beginnings at the turn of the century, to post-war British impressionism and a mastery of light in landscapes. 

Works that have not been displayed for decades, including some of the 41 he exhibited at the Royal Academy, will be brought back together in Winchester. It is a fitting place for a re-introduction and celebration of the artist, as the county of Hampshire was where he lived and worked after the First World War, with its sights and surroundings inspiring so many of his paintings. 

Appleyard was an excellent visual conversationalist whose sketches and works translated and reimagined emotions, ideas and writings into powerful images. Religious themes, ruins and poetry commonly inspired his work.

The First World War brought major changes to Appleyard’s painting. Too old for active service, he worked at Woolwich Arsenal's ammunition factory. After the war, he adopted Impressionism to suit the changing tastes. In 1918, he moved from London to the Hampshire village of Itchen Stoke, near Winchester. His landscapes from this time use exceptional colour and a unique dappling technique to depict sunlight and moonlight over fields, waterways, and villages, as seen in Itchen Valley Landscape with Figure (c. 1930) and Moonrise over the River Itchen (c. 1935). His treatment of light gives his paintings a slow, gentle feel, portraying a peaceful countryside.

Appleyard often painted the hills, fields and rivers of the Itchen Valley, capturing the area's essence. His works reflect his love for gardening and nature, filled with beauty and wonder, showcasing a tranquil life. These field studies will be displayed, showing his artistic process and deep connection to the landscape.

Many of his paintings feature children enjoying nature, like Rocky Pools. Poss nr Devil's Pool, Galloway (date unknown) and Beach Scene with Children in Stream (date unknown). He also included classical ruins in his landscapes, especially at Netley Abbey, making his drawings familiar to Hampshire residents. Appleyard's legacy continues to intrigue art historians, with his works found across the country. For instance, a damaged painting of an elderly lady at her cottage door was restored on BBC's The Repair Shop and will be displayed. A double-sided screen with Pre-Raphaelite figures, recently discovered under a bed, will also be showcased.

It's surprising that an artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy nearly fifty times and painted murals across the country, including at a Nottingham hospital and Yorkshire churches, has had little substantial literature written about him. Therefore, the exhibition will include the first catalogue dedicated solely to his work.

As spring turns into summer, Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard, From the Royal Academy to the Itchen Valley strives to reintroduce an incredible British artist, in the county that inspired him most. 

Curator Melanie Rose says: “From a painter’s perspective, working on this exhibition has been a privilege. Fred Appleyard’s sensitivity to place and people is apparent through his long and continually evolving painting practice. When looking at Fred’s paintings, I feel a deep sense of belonging but also huge respect for him and his technical ability to evolve his painting style from monumental pre-Raphaelite paintings to intimate Impressionistic studies of the Itchen Valley.”

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