William Robson (1863-1950)
William Robson (1863-1950)

"Capri"

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Oil on unstretched canvas laid on board, signed in ink lower right "William Robson" and inscribed "Capri", 31 cm x 39.5 cm. Price: £4,600

William Robson "Capri" (Detail)
William Robson "Capri" (Detail)
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William Robson "Capri"
William Robson "Capri"

(shown in frame)

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William Robson in Capri

The impact and immediacy of this seascape derive from the artist's having positioned himself not on the shore looking out to sea (typical of the "Mending the Nets" or "View Across the Bay of Naples" school of painting) but having taken up a precarious vantage point, apparently in a boat a little out to sea or possibly positioned on a breakwater, looking back to shore. In the background, the whitewashed facades of Capri's typical flat-roofed fisherman's cottages stand in shadow, subtly reflecting the greens and blues of the dark turquoise sea lapping the shore before them. On a narrow horizontal strip of sunlit beach, a busy riot of bleached and variegated colours denotes beached boats. The light is contre-jour, with much of the scene cast in shade and forms edged with flecks of light. Several boats, either moored or rowed by boatmen, help to define the distance between the viewer and the shore, and lend dynamism to the composition. The painting lies somewhere between landscape sketch and genre scene for on one of the boats a female passenger turns and directs her gaze towards the viewer, adding a frisson of anecdote to what is otherwise a rigorously-executed exercise in colour and light. 

Born in 1863, Robson studied at the Edinburgh School of Art and the Académie Julian in Paris before settling in Capri, where he painted for more than a decade, returning to Scotland in 1896.