Tuesday, 18 August 2015

John Dickson Batten and the hobyahs

Alphonse Legros used to tell his students at the Slade School in London that if they were going to rob anyone they should rob the rich. John Dixon Batten took him at his word when he came to draw his hobyahs for More English Fairy Tales.

Striking, really, that he should turn to Hokusai when he was need of protean figures. Hokusai had both humour and creativity in abundance. Striking, too, just how much Batten put his own mark on his hobyahs. An admirer of Japanese art, he had no real use for Japanese aesthetics and believed Western artists had to adapt what they had learned from it.

Not surprising if you consider how far his professor at the Slade was steeped in the Western tradition, the kind of man whose idea of what to do on a trip to Italy was copying frescoes by Raphael in the Vatican. You can how much he learned from the Old Masters in the drawing a Greek man.

But then if you compare the line of the man's back and the line of the hobyah's back, you can see how much Batten learned from Legros and how much both Legros and Batten had behind them and in the end the training he received was to well-grounded for an artist as good as Batten to dress his work up with bits and pieces of ukiyo-e.



No comments:

Post a Comment