Duranty, Charles - Gog Magog's golden landscape
Duranty, Charles - It was known as the nature walk
Duranty, Charles - He longed to join them but was too shyMore
Duranty, Charles - I am come back, the voice from the wilderness *
Duranty, Charles - The OutingMore
Duranty, Charles - The Forgotten Siding
About the artist
Charles Duranty, a poet as well as painter, born in Romford, Essex, is best known for his imaginary East Anglian landscapes. Self taught - he claimed that he had been thrown out of his art class at school - he only began painting in earnest when he was in his forties. Over the next 30 years he produced and sold some 1,500 watercolours featuring distinctive, though fictional views of the East Anglian countryside, whose open landscape and wide horizons he had come to love while working on an Essex farm during World War Two.
His landscapes typically feature vast fields spreading over rolling hills, with small figures, ancient vehicles or maybe a building to give focus and scale. He provided his pictures with delightfully eccentric titles, many of which can be seen on these pages.
For many years Duranty showed his work at the Thackeray gallery in Kensington. He continued painting well into his seventies; he died in 2006 aged 87. Almost the works here come from private collections.
Twenty or so works featured here that have a stock reference beginning with “DH” were shown in our When they were young… touring exhibition in 2016. They were originally acquired at the same time from the Thackeray gallery in 1970 by the eccentric collector Richard Cory Smith, who later presented them to a friend.
Most of these pictures had not been framed and labelled before Cory Smith snapped them up, and sadly we don’t know what title Duranty had in mind for them. We resisted the temptation to devise humorous Duranty-style titles and initially gave them bland descriptive names such as Green landscape. But now that we have tracked down a copy of Audition, Duranty’s one and only published book of poems, we have taken the liberty of lifting phrases and lines from his poems and using them as titles. This is a bit cheeky, maybe, but also quite fun. Titles created this way are marked with an asterisk*.
The Guardian’s obituary of Charles Duranty and the extraordinary story behind these paintings can be seen in our NEWS section
The fields were suffused with light in the early evening
Did the bird also love this place?
Do you know how much I paid for two lemon soles?
Summer no longer decked their branches
It was known as the nature walk
Never had he seen anything so magnificent
He was going to have a congregation after all
Woman in white
You've been speeding again, HarryMore
I remember when she was the pride of the farmMore
They were trying to make up their minds to go in
It was all right for some people, he thoughtMore
Well, Sarah, what sort are they?
The birds flew in on a grey morning
The Forgotten Siding
He longed to join them but was too shyMore
As far as the eye can seeMore
Two small figuresMore
Under the saffron-coloured sky *
The seasons turned beneath a lolling sun *
Black & White LandscapeMore
Deep in ornamental burrows *
Clouds that snaked about his head like tattered plumes *
Gog Magog's golden landscape
In the hills where my childhood lingers *
She came in a fortunate month *
Memory of Childerditch
The lost field is faced with delicate flowers *
Where breaks the pale sheath *
Now that the days have built seasons between us *
Perpetual summer has sighed out its season *
Risen from frozen marshes *
I am come back, the voice from the wilderness *