It is unsurprising that an artist such as Sam Bough was drawn to the dramatic visuals of day-to-day life working on the coast. The fishing village of Newhaven in the late 19th century, despite its close proximity to Edinburgh, was extremely distinctive, particularly in the striped attire of the Newhaven fishwives. Such was the variation, that the village was the subject of much early photography by innovators David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. For Bough, these striking differentials must have appealed, but ultimately he was drawn to all coastal villages as an intersection between water and land - a hub of busy industry and scene of dramatic and changeable weather conditions.
By the late 1850s, Bough was settled in Scotland and had moved east to Edinburgh, hoping to make his mark in the country’s capital city. At this point, artistically, he was reaping the rewards of many years working and sketching outside, most particularly amongst the ships and shores of the Clyde, Forth and the Fife coast. Largely self-taught as an artist, he had trained his eye sketching from nature across the countryside of the north of England, before working in set painting in Manchester and Glasgow, continually creating his own paintings out with these hours, eventually building enough success to move to painting full-time.
The two scenes presented here are vibrant and full of bustling activity. Bough is confident in his artistic powers, successfully balancing a busy and dramatic foreground with distant, identifiable landscape and leaving plenty of room for expansive skies. He displays his particular talent for the depiction of clouds – his ability to translate their mutability, lightness and patterning into paint. In each, we get the sense of a true snapshot - just a second later everything will change - the positioning of boats and figures, the moments of movement and conversation, a new slice of weather drawing in.
AUCTION | Scottish Paintings | Thursday, 5th December at 6pm | Edinburgh
VIEWING | Sun 1 December 12pm - 4pm | Mon 2 - Wed 4 December 10am - 5pm | Thurs 5 December 9am - 2pm