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Painting Collection

WilliamLeech – Fields by the Sea

Fields by the Sea

Leech, William

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No definite date, oil on linen, 83 x 61.5 cm (gift of the artist in 1948)


William Leech (1881-1968) was born in Dublin, and like many of the artists of his generation born in the capital, attended the Metropolitan Schoo lof Art, before moving to France. 

There are two paintings by William Leech in the Limerick City Gallery of Art: Fields by the Sea and An Artists Studio (Flowers). Together they demonstrate two areas of the study that particularly stimulated Leech’s interest – the sunlit landscape interiors. There is something strangely still and passive about Leech’s work, as though he was almost absent while observing his subject, and a quietness pervades his paintings. Although his palette often included rich, vibrant colours, there is nothing loud or brash about the resulting work.

Typical of his work Fields by the sea, a gentle sun-dappled landscape exudes calm. Cattle graze or move around idly in the foreground, and the image softens further in the background until sea meets horizon in the far distance. In this work Leech displays the influence of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles, both in the hurried Impressionistic brushstroke and the generous application of adjacent single colours, in the manner similar to works of prominent artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Vincent Van Gough and Henry Matisse.

Leech was fond of painting flowers and plants, and An Artist’s Studio (Flowers) illustrates this passion. The unobtrusive figure in the background is Leech himself. He allows the flowers to command the viewer’s attention. It is thought that he included his featureless self-portrait to satisfy the composition rather than out of any strong desire to include himself in the image.

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