Research by Pat Corless
Acc No 5
Artist Alfred de Breanski Snr
Artist dates 1852-1928
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 24 x 36 ins (61 x 91.4 cm)
Date painted Unknown
Donor Alderman J H Dawson
Date donated 26 July 1948
Acc No 73
Size 30 x 48 ins (76.2 x 122 cms)
Dated painted Unknown
Donor Alderman J H Dawson
Dated donated 25 September 1950
Alfred de Breanski Senior was a distinguished landscape painter famous for his resplendent views of the Welsh and Scottish Highlands. Often bathed in a flood of golden light these landscapes usually feature water and cattle or sheep on grassy banks, sometimes a solitary figure is seen in the distance. He had a great passion for the Highlands and caught the atmospheric influences of the undulating landscape.
Born in Greenwich in 1852 Alfred was the oldest son of Leopold de Breanski, a Polish emigre. His brother, Gustave, and sister, Julie, were also painters. Alfred enjoyed much success in his lifetime and exhibited his first painting, Evening: Softly falls the even light, at the Royal Academy in 1872. He continued to exhibit there until 1918. He had many patrons and today his paintings hang in galleries throughout the world – notably in the UK and Australia. In 1880 he became a Freeman of the City of London.
By the 1870s de Breanski had already embraced landscape as his preferred subject matter. He travelled to the isolated regions of Wales and Scotland in search of wilderness landscape creating a unique blend of romanticism and realism. He followed in the traditions of such artists as Constable and Turner but aimed to find his own style of expression. He was fascinated by the texture of rock, earth and foliage and would focus on the minute details of a particular plant or craggy rockface.
Both prolific and distinguished, de Breanski Senior exhibited at the Royal Academy until 1918 when he seems to have retired from public life. He died in London ten years later, aged 66.
The de Breanski Family
In 1873 Alfred de Breanski married Annie Roberts, a talented Welsh artist whom he had met during his frequent painting trips to Wales. They had seven children and his son, Alfred Fontville de Breanski, also achieved considerable success as a painter. Alfred Fontville initially painted Scottish and Welsh landscapes in a similar style to his father but from 1890 adapted his own style after spending time studying in France. To differentiate from his son, the father referred to himself as Senior and used the accent aigu over the e in signatures on his paintings. The son also frequently signed his paintings A F de Breanski.
Both paintings are typical of the style and content of works by Alfred de Breanski Senior. Many similar paintings of Highland scenes by this artist are to be found, including one entitled Highland Loch in the Glasgow Museum and Loch Lubnaig in the Southampton City Art Gallery.
Lochnagar is a mountain in the Grampians of Scotland located 5 miles south of the River Dee near Balmoral and at 3789ft it is classed as a Munro and is listed as Marilyn.
The peak also lends its name to the poem 'Lachin y Gair' (also known as 'Dark Lochnagar') by Lord Byron and a song was based on it. Lochnagar is located on the Royal Estate at Balmoral and is the setting for a children’s story, 'The Old Man of Lochnagar', written by Prince Charles.