Research by Anne Matthews
Acc No 257
Artist Stanley Warburton
Artist dates 1919-2012
Size 45 x 35 cm (17.5 x 14 in)
Date painted unknown
Donor Sheila Warburton, widow of Stanley,
and their son, Daniel, Lytham St Annes
Date donated 13 April 2013
See The Long Causeway, Looking back to Heptonstall, Yorkshire by Stanley Warburton also in the Collection
Stanley Warburton was an accomplished and well respected artist who, although specialising in landscapes, both watercolour and oils, also produced portraits and still life. In particular, he will be remembered for the personal vision and style he brought to his landscapes through his intimate knowledge of the towns and villages of his much loved South Pennines.
Stanley was born on 19 March 1919 in Heywood, Lancashire, the younger son of Harry, a textile engineering draughtsman, and Martha (nee Wolstenholme), who had been a cotton weaver before her marriage. Following in his father’s footsteps Stanley also became an engineer/draughtsman, later becoming a teacher of engineering subjects in a number of Technical Colleges, but finding time to visit art galleries and museums around the world. He was artistically inspired from an early age by the paintings of his grandfather, Daniel Warburton (1859-1919), which adorned his grandmother’s home. The Bury artist, who died the year Stanley was born, left a small book, ‘Turner the Artist’ by Rev SA Swaine. An omen of things to come!
Although mainly self-taught, Stanley amassed an academic knowledge of the different techniques of many artists. In addition to his fascination with JMW Turner (1775-1851) and JS Cotman (1742-1782), he was influenced in the early stages of his career by Cezanne, Vlaminck, Stanley Spencer, John and Paul Nash and Wilson Steer. He studied at the School of Art in Bury and exhibited at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, where he met and befriended LS Lowry, whom he considered his mentor. He recalled Lowry visiting his first one-man show in Rochdale and his advice ‘not to read too much nor to see too many paintings by other artists but to retain his own vision’.
Stanley also acknowledged his good fortune in having John Bold, a fine Lancashire artist, as his teacher. In turn he has become an inspiration to others. Maurice Greenwood RCA (1930 - ) in his online profile writes of the encouragement and advice he received from Stanley from an early age and is ‘still much inspired by his work’.
During his youth Stanley had been impressed by Turner’s Liber Studiorum - a set of seventy-one studies engraved from some of his etchings, which were hung around the cupola in Bury Art Gallery. This interest was re-stimulated in 1975 (Turner’s bicentenary). Stanley was pivotal in founding the Northern Branch of the Turner Society, serving as Chairman from 1977, and subsequently, from 1984 until 1988, as Vice President of the national Turner Society in London, and through this position forged artistic links with Prince Charles.
He helped to organise three Turner Exhibitions, ‘Turner in Yorkshire’ at the York City Art Gallery in 1980, ‘Turner and Dr Whitaker’ at Towneley Hall, Burnley in 1982 and finally, ‘Turner in Wales’ at the Llandudno Mostyn Gallery. Stanley’s own work has been the subject of several exhibitions in the north, the final one being An Art Refined at the Fylde Gallery in Lytham (2012) when nearly 70 works were displayed.
Stanley also self-published three books. The beautifully illustrated ‘Discovering Turner’s Lakeland’ (2008) and ‘John Sell Cotman – The Gentle Genius of Norwich’ (2010), which complements the pocket biography of ‘Artist Extraordinary John Sell Cotman’, published in 2003.
In addition to his painting and writing Stanley was also very much in demand as a lecturer at various prestigious institutions, including the Royal Academy and Tate Liverpool, as well as numerous art societies throughout the North West. He retired to Lytham St Annes in the early 1990s where he quickly associated himself with local societies, becoming the President of the Lytham St Annes Art Society in 1994/95. He continued to advise young artists and generously passed on his skills to aspiring artists in local schools until he died in August 2012.
He currently has two oil paintings in the Leamington Spa Art Gallery, Young Teenager and Self-Portrait as a Young Man (1949), as well as exhibits in several North West public art galleries, including Bury Art Gallery and Museum who have two oil paintings, Snow at Marland (1951) and Pennine Landscape (1996) and a watercolour, Selside, near Horton (1965). Rochdale Art Gallery has a watercolour, Butterworth Hall, Milnrow and there is a further watercolour, Yorkshire Landscape, The Long Causeway Looking Back from Heptonstall, in the Lytham St Annes Art Collection.
Other paintings include:
(oils) Hebden Bridge,The Road to Keighley
Springtime in Saddleworth
Lane to the Farm
Morning Light on the Rochdale Canal at Castleton
(watercolours) Elterwater, English Lakes
Houses in Todmorden
Hebden Bridge is a West Yorkshire market town in the Upper Calder Valley, 8 miles west of Halifax and 14 miles north east of Rochdale at the confluence of the River Calder and the River Hebden, with the Rochdale Canal weaving through. Ten minutes out of the town centre you can be walking by the river in one of the many wooded valleys or, after a half hour uphill walk, rambling across glorious heather moorland.
Design and composition were most important to Stanley and his skills in this respect are evident here. Whilst he provides a balanced view of the town at close range, the viewer remains fully conscious of the proximity of the countryside in the distance. Central to the painting is a terrace of houses which force the road to divide, the main street continuing to the left of them with a minor road to the right.
An expert in the use of subdued watercolours, the various shades of grey used for the roads give the impression that it has been raining and the paler tones in the sky hint that there is more to come. Extremely fine pen-work defining the cobbles and walls to the left of the picture, and also the walls of the cottages on the opposite side of the road, is an accomplished technique. However, the line of the roof on the tall dark grey house on the right appears to be at an awkward angle and this, initially, because of its height tends to look disproportionate to the adjoining properties.
Although the town remains the near focus, the eye is drawn to the wider aspect of the moorland beyond. Here, on the right, a wonderful clear shaft of sunlight strikes down, highlighting the hillside before dropping down to the town dispelling the gloom.
www.rcaconwy.org (Maurice Greenwood)
Rochdale Register Office
DFAS Newsletter ‘In the Picture’,
6 October 2012, article by Veronica McDonnell
DFAS Newsletter, 'In the Picture',
5 March 2012, article by Hilary Alcock
Pennine Magazine, April 1984,
article by Susan Bourne
Lytham St Annes Art Society
Alan Bealey, LSAAS
Special thanks to Arthur Barnes of St Annes for sharing memories of Stanley