Wednesday, August 7, 2013

William Huggins

eccentrics in Art

William Huggins 1820-1884

Self Portrait, aged 38, with Chickens
Oil on board; signed and dated 1858.
21 x 17 inches

This work, painted in 1858 shows the artist feeding his beloved chickens. Huggins established a new and individual technique in creating a translucent and bright quality to his paintings, as exemplified here. He used smooth white millboards onto which he made careful pencil outlines. These would be then glazed very richly with thin, transparent colours that would allow the white to shine through creating a luminous, sometimes rainbow effect.

Huggins was an eccentric individual, boasting a large hooked nose (he was said to resemble Turner). He preferred the company of animals, especially chickens, to that of his fellow men. He hated travelling through tunnels, and so would get off the train before Liverpool and walk the rest of the way home. His epitaph, which he composed himself, read: 'A just and compassionate man who would neither tread on a worm, nor cringe to an Emperor'.

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