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Bertram Priestman 'A View of Buckden Bridge'

16th September 2020.

A major painting of an Upper Wharfedale landmark by Yorkshire-born artist Bertram Priestman is to be sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Tradition Pictures Sale on 14th November. ‘A view of Buckden Bridge with haymaking beyond’ was painted in 1918 and is to be offered for sale with an estimate of £7,000-10,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

Bertram Priestman (1868-1951) was born in Bradford to a Quaker family. His father, a textile manufacturer, was an enthusiastic art collector who filled the family home in Bradford and later Ilkley with paintings.

After attending the Friend’s School in York, Priestman briefly attended Bradford Technical College to study engineering before leaving to study art at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Here his talent was quickly recognised, and he was chosen to work as a studio assistant to William Llewellyn, a celebrated landscape artist who was later President of the Royal Academy. Soon after significant galleries and institutions, including the Royal Academy, began exhibiting his work. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists, and taught other artists such as Edward Seago, whose work he greatly influenced and who was to remain a friend for life.

Priestman is much admired for his atmospheric landscapes and seascapes, often painted en plein air. His paintings are characterised by bright colours and bold brushstrokes and are dominated by his masterly depictions of sky. Indeed, Sir Frank Brangwyn described Priestman as “the finest sky painter of our day”.

From 1914 Priestman was predominantly based in Suffolk, a county in which he found endless inspiration. However, he returned to live in the North of England for brief spells, residing in Wharfedale, an area he knew from childhood, and South Westmorland.

In 1918 Priestman painted ‘A view of Buckden Bridge with haymaking beyond’, a large-scale canvas depicting the village in Upper Wharfedale. Bathed in warm light, the bridge and the houses of Buckden are set against the imposing hills of Starbottom Fell, with villagers bringing in the hay in the middle distance. The 18th Century bridge was known as ‘Election Bridge’ for many years, as it was built following an election pledge by a prospective MP to replace an earlier structure that had been washed away in a flood in 1748.

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