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William John Leech GARDENS, NICE
Lot 4
Price Realised: €14,000
Estimate: €4,000 - €6,000
William John Leech RHA, 1881-1968 GARDENS, NICE Oil on board, 8 3/4" x 10 3/4" (22.2 x 27.3cm), signed. Provenance: The Dawson Gallery, Dublin (label verso). Label on back of the painting, In Leech's handwriting 'Gardens, Nice' by Will... Read more
William John Leech RHA, 1881-1968 GARDENS, NICE Oil on board, 8 3/4" x 10 3/4" (22.2 x 27.3cm), signed. Provenance: The Dawson Gallery, Dublin (label verso). Label on back of the painting, In Leech's handwriting 'Gardens, Nice' by William J. Leech R.H.A. After Leech's meeting of May Botterell in 1919 and the subsequent breakup of his marriage to his beautiful American wife, Elizabeth, the subject of 'The Convent Garden' and 'The Sunshade" (both NGI), Leech's life took a different direction, as did the subject matter of his paintings. Previously his subject matter in France had been in Brittany and especially Concarneau, where he painted the fishermen, the harbour and the surrounding landscape. May Botterell was a wealthy woman, not just from her marriage to Percy, an eminent solicitor with a large London practice, but she, herself was highly accomplished, from a wealthy North of England family. Leech's painting trips to France then became the area above the Côte d'Azur. In 1921, Leech rented a house at St. Jeannet, which is a hillside village, in the foothills above Nice with its distant, panoramic views of the Mediterranean below.  From 1921 until 1926, during Leech's annual trips to France, the subject matter he focused on was that of St. Jeannet and the nearby coastal area of Nice, with its rich flora and fauna which flourished in the higher temperatures of the region, so different from the Northern Brittany region. In 'Gardens, Nice' Leech captures the scene, en plein air, using a small board, to capture the women and children in oils, gathered under a tree, to the left of the painting. Working out of doors, Leech, simply describes the group with bold brushstrokes of colour with a freedom of depiction capturing movement among the group. His palette is one of burnt and raw umber with Naples Yellow and soft orange to give highlight. The use of Naples Yellow, exudes heat from the bands of yellow, which permeate the entire painting, to the interjection of contrasting viridian greens across the foreground, which focus attention on the family group under the tree. The soft greens of the overhanging branches of a tree in the foreground, encloses the scene and focuses on the family group at play in the 'Garden, Nice.' Leech exhibited several works at the R.H.A, entitled 'Red roof, Nice' and 'The port Nice' in the period 1928 - 1929, during which period, this work probably belongs to. Dr Denise Ferran, November 2020
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