‘Arcadia,’ a very large Neoclassical Arts & Crafts painting by Thomas Eyre Macklin and William Irving
British, 1911, Oil-on-canvas
Frame: height 185cm, width 366cm, depth 3cm
Canvas: height 182cm, width 364cm
Depicting an idyllic scene of a band of women dancing, singing and playing musical instruments, this wonderful and exceptionally large Neoclassical painting was executed by a collaboration of two English artists who worked at the high point of the British Arts & Crafts movement.
Titled ‘Arcadia,’ it is set in a landscape setting, placed by the sea, that appears as a cross between British idyllic coastline and Mediterranean pastoral fields. Arcadia is a famous province of the Peloponnese, Greece, and due to its natural beauty, tranquillity, and its unblemished landscape it was chosen as the home of the Greek nature god Pan and as the mythological setting of much literature and poetry in the Ancient world, inspiring artists for centuries.
The painting takes liberties with the natural setting and with its subject, placing it by the sea, and transforming it into a cross between a Mediterranean and a British paradise: thus blending Neoclassical themes and subjects with noticeable English and Victorian qualities.
The artists, Thomas Eyre Macklin (1867-1943) and William Irving (1866-1943), both studied at the Newcastle school of art early in their careers. Between 1895 and 1911 Macklin is thought to have returned to his native Newcastle, where Irving had also returned after further studies in Paris.
The painting is set within a wide border, painted in the Arts & Crafts style, with geometric and Celtic influences, and in turn mounted within a thin wooden frame. It is titled to the lower centre ‘Arcadia,’ and signed and dated to the lower left ‘T. Eyre Macklin / & William Irving / 1911.’