Obituary: Patrick Hall
Friday 10 July 1992
PATRICK HALL was a painter from a now sadly disappearing generation; his values and artistic influences came from the 19th century and, most particularly, the Impressionist school. His methods consisted of a very English compromise between plein air and studio work. He would travel all over Europe, accompanied by his wife Mary, stopping to sketch landscapes, particularly those that featured rivers or canals, and buildings. Then he returned with his sketches to his home in Kent, where he worked them up from his photographic memory.
A perfectionist, who would work fast with a very wet brush, he was rarely satisfied and he repeatedly destroyed his work and started again. He never allowed a work out of his studio unless he was absolutely happy with it. His shows were therefore always of the highest quality.
His career was characterised by the odd contrast of sell-out exhibitions and critical neglect and though galleries such as Waddington, Austin Hayes, Marjorie Parr, and latterly Montpelier Studio regularly exhibited his work he never achieved a wide fame. But, as so often with an artist, the work is the ultimate testament and this had a wide and loyal following.
Born in York, Hall was educated at Sedbergh. He always wanted to be an artist. As a young man, though he had to work in the family business, Hall's tannery in New Earswick, he attended the York Art School as often as possible. While still a teenager he helped with the conservation of the stained-glass windows in York Minster. This interest in architecture and cathedrals stayed with him all his life. (One painting of his, Rheims Night, comes to mind, in which he freely but precisely describes the experience of seeing a great cathedral by night, lit only by street lights. It seems almost to shimmer; yet each architectural detail suggests an exact role in the plan of the building.)
After the war and the break-up of the family business, Hall at last felt free to go to London to pursue an artistic career full-time. In his home in South Terrace, South Kensington, he set up a studio where he painted constantly. He was Honorary, then acting, Secretary of the Chelsea Arts Club, and made many friends among artists; Sir Henry Rushbury, Keeper of the Royal Academy and Head of the Academy Schools, was a close friend from his York days. At first he submitted to the Royal Academy, where he was accepted each year and sold well before his first show with Victor Waddington. He stayed in London until the early Seventies, when he and his wife went to live in Kent.
A tall, dapper, elegant man, Patrick Hall, with his bow-tie and slightly stooped gait, probably epitomised the English artist abroad. His water-colours of France and Italy are in the best tradition of British painting.
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