Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard

21 June 2024 to 18 September 2024 The Gallery at The Arc

A young girl in a white dress stands beside a large, old tree on a green hillside dotted with small white and yellow flowers. She is gently holding a branch while looking down. In the background, a cloudy sky and two distant figures are visible.
Fred Appleyard Girl in Landscape Courtesy of the artist’s estate © Hampshire Cultural Trust 2024

150 years after his birth, rediscover Fred Appleyard with a major new retrospective

This summer, a major retrospective will rediscover the accomplishments of a British great when Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard, From the Royal Academy to the Itchen Valley, opens at The Gallery in The Arc, Winchester.

As one of the finest painters Britain has produced in the last two centuries, it is surprising that the name Fred Appleyard (1874 - 1963) is not as well-known as it should be. Appreciated during his lifetime, he received the Turner Gold Medal for landscape painting, and visitors to the Royal Academy restaurant are still greeted by his stunning 1902 mural.

But 150 years after his birth, the legacy of Fred Appleyard has at times been under threat, in danger of being lost to art history. Now, with over 100 works from both private and public collections, this exhibition will chart the brilliance of a long career: spanning Pre-Raphaelite beginnings at the turn of the century, to post-war British impressionism and a mastery of light in landscapes. Works that have not been displayed for decades, including some of the 41 he exhibited at the Academy, will be brought back together at The Arc. It is a fitting place for a re-introduction and celebration of the artist, as the county of Hampshire was where he lived and worked after the First World War, with its sights and surroundings inspiring so many of his paintings.

The exhibition includes rural landscapes of chalk streams and dappled light, tender portraits where light dances off the skin or is reflected in the dazzling Itchen water, and jewel-like, floral still-lives. His exceptional talent for colour and light can be seen in works such as Garden at Lane End, Itchen Stoke (c1935) and Moonrise over the River Itchen (c1953).  

Appleyard’s accomplished drawings of his beloved Itchen Valley provide us with pin-point locations that many will recognise. Most poignantly, Appleyard depicted a time when the pace of life was slower, and some would argue, gentler. These graceful scenes are a celebration of the slow act of painting, with themes relevant today, viewed through the portal of the artist’s canvas. His subjects were infused with what he loved, from gardening to the natural world, while a strong sense of beauty and wonder emanates out of every piece.

It is perhaps incredible that an artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy almost fifty times, and who was commissioned to paint murals across the country, including at a Nottingham hospital and Yorkshire churches, could have no substantial literature written about them. Therefore, alongside the exhibition will be the first catalogue dedicated solely to his work.

As spring turns into summer, Rising Splendour: Fred Appleyard, From the Royal Academy to the Itchen Valley strives to reintroduce an incredible British artist, in the county that inspired him most.

Further Information: The Gallery at The Arc, Winchester