John Brett British
Not on view
Precise natural details convey a dreamlike stillness in this Isle of Wight landscape. A sharply canted section of coastal down allows Brett to contrast purplish-gray rocks with pale grass and rusty winter foliage, as dappled touches of brilliant color describe a patch of distant sea. Wandering cows and a signal mast silhouetted against the sky suggest an unseen human presence. Brett’s early career had been molded by the leading critic John Ruskin, who acted as his mentor until a scientific argument caused a rift in 1865. Painted shortly after their parting, Bonchurch Downs still honors Ruskin’s famous advice that artists should "go to Nature in all singleness of heart . . . rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing."