Andrew Freeth was born in Birmingham and began his studies at the School of Art (1929-1936) in his native city until receiving an engraving Scholarship to the British School in Rome, where he stayed for a further three years. In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II he was employed as an official war artist travelling to the Middle East. Consequently the War Artist’s Advisory Committee as well as private collectors and the British Museum bought his depictions of the war. His superb talent for etchings was recognised in 1965 when he was honoured by becoming a Royal Academician. He was also recognized by the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, the Royal Society of Painters in watercolours, the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. His work remains an important part of study for those interested in the realities of war and for those who simply admire and continue to be inspired by his honest approach to both mediums of etching and watercolours.
‘Freeth’s work can be described as highly observational. Depicting human activity, be it tragedy during a war-time situation or, as we can see in this watercolour, a gardener resting on his tools during peace-time. An isolated character with only mere glimpses of the garden he inhabits behind him, the ‘Little Gardener’ deliberately takes up the majority of the scene. By focusing upon the resting figure, Freeth creates a more ambiguous scene, neither a Landscape nor a Portrait, it is simply caught somewhere between the two. This is emphasized by the medium used, being distributed quickly on his canvas, Freeth may have intended the painting to look improvised, an unrehearsed meeting captured in watercolour.’
- G. MEIßNER, Saur Allgemeines Kunstler-Lexion: Band 44, K.G. Saur Verlag GumbH & Co, Munich Germany, 1998.
- BENEZIT Dictionary Of Artists: Volume 5, Editions Grund, Paris France, 2006.
- BUCKMAN, D., Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945, Art Dictionaries, Bristol GB, 1998.
- ROE, S., Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in Essex, Public Catalogue Foundation, London, 2006