The beach, Capri, result 1 of 1
Maud Sherwood made Capri, and the villa of her friend Anita Vedder, a summer base for a number of years from 1926 until 1932. The beach, Capri would have been produced during one of these visits. Unique among Sherwood's work, it highlights the interest in design and pattern that is an essential part of the fabric of her art practice. In this watercolour Sherwood has admirably represented the battery-like arrangement of the bathing sheds and exploited the decorative opportunities they provided, and has done so from several angles. This was the height of the art deco era in Europe, and Sherwood has chosen to illustrate the popular Capri beach in terms of the strong linear rhythms and decorative patterning, which were characteristic of that style. The colours used - the pinks and reds and the pale green, balanced against the blue and black - were popular in the decades between the two world wars. Sherwood's method of applying colour in blocks in this work was normally reserved for her prints and linocuts, which favoured large patches of colour in decorative patterns. In her use of pure colours and flat outlined forms, she indicates an awareness of Japonisme, which continued to be influential stylistically at this time too. Generally her watercolour style was much looser, with wet-on-wet techniques and dribbling of paint that demonstrated her great technical skill and mastery of colour mixing.
Though born in Dunedin, Sherwood grew up in Wellington and was both a pupil and a tutor at Wellington Technical School. James Nairn was a formative influence on her use of paint and understanding of colour values, and Sherwood continued to acknowledge him throughout her very successful career. After leaving New Zealand in 1911 she spent her remaining years in Europe and Australia, with only a brief return to Wellington during 1925 and 1926. Sherwood found the stimulation of Europe essential for the development of her talents, of which The beach, Capri is a striking example.
This essay appears in Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2009).
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