Menzies Art Brands



Harold Septimus Power was one of Australias finest painter of animals, his significant body of work is testament to the great skill he possessed in capturing the movement and form of animals as varied as plough horses, oxen and dogs. The current work, A Foxhunt in the Midlands, was painted at the pinnacle of his distinguished career and remains to be one of the most esteemed paintings in the artists ouvre.

One of eight children, Septimus Power had the desire to be an artist from an early age and despite discouragement from his father, at the age of fourteen left home to find work. A move to South Australia in 1900 saw his career develop significantly he spent time painting in the Adelaide Hills with Hans Heysen (1877-1968) and in 1904 he received a commission from the National Gallery of South Australia for which he was paid 100 guineas. Soon after, the artist and his wife, Isabel Butterworth, moved to Paris where he studied at Acadmie Julien. From Paris, the couple moved to London where they lived in the Chelsea artists colony, it was here in England he felt he was able to express his own style of painting and found an audience in the hunting culture of Britain.

A Fox Hunt in the Midlands, painted in 1912 is one of the finest examples of his dramatic hunting scenes, displaying the energy and vigour which is characteristic of his best equine and sporting subjects. The Age art critic, in June 1913, here describes Septimus Powers ability to capture the sport: It is seldom that the impression of spirited action is conveyed as in A Fox Hunt in the Midlands, a breezy example, full of motion and a sense of the excitement of the chase.1 In another critical examination of this painting, the Argus, in 1913, wrote of the work: The field in full cry is coming full tilt at the spectator, and one can almost hear the movement and breezy dash of the horsemen and hounds at the foreground fence.2 This description vividly describes the excitement of the chase which Septimus Power deftly depicts on this large canvas.

The current work was selected to hang in the Royal Academy exhibition in 1912, this privilege was an acknowledgment of his skill and experience as an established painter. Septimus Powers list of international achievements is as impressive as that of any other Australian or English artist of that time. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, London; the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh; the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils, London; the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London; the Royal Water Colour Association, London and the Salon, Paris.

Septimus Power enjoyed enduring popularity by both English and Australian audiences through his nostalgic rural visions. At the height of his career, he was considered in a line of artistic descent from Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) to Alfred Munnings (1878-1959). Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) lauded the artists work praising his knowledge and ability to paint animals with great vigour. Septimus Powers work is collected widely both by private collectors and institutions locally and internationally - testament to the artistic skill he possessed and the high esteem in which his art is held.

1. Art Exhibition, The Age, 13 June 1913, p.11
2. Argus, Melbourne, 13 June 1913, p.6

Caroline Jones MA (Art Admin.)

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