1863 - 1939
Instow from Appledore

Oil on canvas, signed and dated ’38’ bottom right
Original title inscription and date ‘Nov 19th 1938’ verso
Image size: 30 x 24 inches (76 1/4 x 61 cm)
Contemporary style hand made frame

City of Manchester Art Gallery (exhibition label on reverse)
New English Art Club (exhibition label on reverse)
City of Bradford Corporation Art Gallery (exhibition label on reverse)


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This charming and peaceful scene provides a view of Instow, a village in North Devon England, from Appledore, another village that is situated on the other side of the estuary. Interestingly, in this composition that artist has chosen not to focus on the villages themseleves but gives pride of place instead to a series of pleasure boats that take up the lion’s share of the pictorial space.


Alfred Henry Robinson Thornton

The son of a civil servant, Thornton was born in Delhi in 1963 and was educated in England where he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge and served in the Foreign Office.

Soon deciding he wanted to pursue art, he studied at the Slade School from 1888 to 1889 and then the Westminster School of Art from 1888 to 1889, winning prizes for landscape painting. The artist also taught at Westminster School of Art as an assistant to Walter Sickert, 1893 – 94. He was elected a member of the NEAC in 1895 and acted as its Honorary Secretary from 1928. In 1928, he became the President of the influential Cheltenham Group, a society founded in 1920 to bring together local professional artists.

Thornton was most interested in impressionist and post-impressionist work and was inspired by the radicalism of French artists including Monet and Gauguin, the latter of whom he met in 1890. A prolific exhibitor, he showed frequently at the RA, NEAC, RBA, Goupil Gallery, Cooling Gallery, RSA, FAS and Redfern Gallery.

Thornton wrote ‘The Diary of an Art Student of the Nineties’, published the year before his death and which still remains a useful source of information on the various issues and factions that shaped the period. He was a member of the then influential Cheltenham Group, and a memorial exhibition was held at the Redfern Gallery in the year of his demise.

Examples of his work are in the collections Bradford Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds University Collection, Museums Sheffield, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, BM, CAS, and at Tate Gallery, London.