Oct 4 2011: A Watercolour Painting Of A Railway Bridge (Unknown Artist and Date)

I found this painting, unframed, in a pile of random blank paper and other ephemera at a house clearance unit on Nottingham’s Cattle Market a few weeks ago, but while the painting – executed in watercolour on board – is unsigned and undated, its surface shows plenty of signs of age, and the style has a kind of ‘age of austerity’ weight to it, as the deftly sketched sky appears light but leaden, and the grime accrued on the bridge and its surroundings is made visible. The image itself appears to be an industrial railway bridge crossing a river, viewed from underneath, but like the artist’s identity and the date, the location depicted is also something of a mystery. While it’s impossible to identfy the origins of the picture, though, it’s clearly by someone adept at handling the effects of weight and mass against light and water, and the end result is a curious mix of traditional figuration and semi-abstract composition, as the grid-like industrial forms register as lines and geometric shapes against the lighter background. The patches of paint-spatter, discoloration and wear on the image itself, rather than detract from it, seem to unify the foreground and background under a general veneer of industrial decay and pollution that enhances the overall impact.

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