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“St Martin-in-the-Fields”

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[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]

WEISE, Edward [1899-1958]

“St Martin-in-the-Fields, London”

1917

gouache on paper / 6.5 inches by 4.5 inches

Omaha native Edward Weise was an artistic amateur in the better sense of the word: he was a self-taught lover of art. With nothing more formal than high school art instruction in Omaha, he worked in gouache (opaque watercolor), producing small studies of flowers in his mother’s garden and  views from his bedroom window of their yard, garage, alley and neighbors’ clothes lines. Weise painted for pleasure and personal satisfaction alone, declining to exhibit his work and only giving a few pieces to family members and friends. This example was contributed in his memory by granddaughter Professor Emily Wiese, instructor of English at Northwest Iowa College here in Agincourt. Not incidentally, Prof Weise is Keeper of the Community Collection.

This subject—painted when Weise was only eighteen years of age and a U.S. soldier during World War I—is the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Designed in the English Baroque style by architect James Gibbs and built during 1722-1724, St Martin’s stands prominently at the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square and facing the National Portrait Gallery. Looking up at Gibbs’s Corinthian portico (and minimizing any of the nearby distractions), Weise’s quick charcoal sketch provides a loose framework for judicious application of color, probably a palette limited to what would fit in his duffle bag. Many amateur artists, on both sides of the conflict, found time to record the war itself and their travel to and from its battlefields.


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