“Early Morning-The Fisherman’s Home” c.1858.
Irish born Danby is best known for his large-scale narrative works: a famous one being “The Deluge” which is usually on show at Tate Britain. Associated with the Romantic period along with the likes of John Martin and Turner, he is less noted for his later works. The art establishment found these more experimental pictures too rich in colour, and still today they are held in lower regard than his grander pieces.
It seems that the current lack of awareness in aesthetic quality is not just limited to modern art. Auction prices reflect a shocking disregard for visual attributes in all periods, successful sales are determined by big names and their associates. Yes, often many of these high value works are great, but quality is not the price barometer.
“Early Morning-The Fisherman’s Home”, by Francis Danby is a jaw dropping beauty. Its initial appearance can be deceptive. If you first sight it from a distance, though immediately striking, it looks minimal for a landscape – a bit Turner-like. The ethereal and opulent colour is matched with such precise arrangements. On getting closer, much more detail is revealed, while losing none of its overall effect. It is magical how all these other things are there, almost hidden, yet so much going on, yet so peaceful. We see the house and the steps leading up to it and how it is fashioned into the rock. There are people, a boat and it’s contents, a duck on the water, fine ripples, a path going around the lake, a mountain peak in the distance and more… Painted with detail, plenty of content, yet first appearing sparse. A truly enigmatic painting.
There is more brightness in the detailed image below to further illustrate.
What I enjoy most about this painting is how it evokes a sense of peace and stillness. If you have ever experienced quietness to the point that nothing can be heard, this picture emphasises that. I find that it helps take you closer to God’s presence.