Today I am going to start to look at the life of a young artist, born at the end of the nineteenth century who, like Frédéric Bazille, the featured artist in my last blog, had promised so much but whose life was cut short fighting for his country.
Brian Hatton, the son of Alfred and Amelia Hatton, was born in Whitecross, a suburb of Hereford, in August 1887. His father, a keen sportsman, was involved in the leather business and was engaged in tanning and in the making of leather gloves. Brian was the eldest of three children. He had two sisters, Alisa Marr Hatton who was born in 1893 and Marjorie who was born in 1895, the same year that the family moved from Whitecross to Broomy Hill, another suburb of Hereford. His siblings would feature in many of his paintings and it is these family portraits which I feature in My Daily Art Display blog today. As a young child Brian showed a remarkable talent for drawing. His parents, who were very proud of his artistic ability constantly encouraged and nurtured his talent. When Brian was just eight years old, he was awarded a Bronze medal for his exhibit at the Royal Drawing Society, an association founded in 1888, which promoted the teaching of drawing in schools.
At the age of ten, Brian developed asthma and he was sent to Swansea where it was hoped that the sea air would help him recuperate. During this time he lived with Doctor and Mrs Lancaster. Whilst there, he used to spend a lot of time pony riding, visiting the beach and pier where he did much sketching. Swansea, at the time was buzzing with activity, as it was preparing for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. During 1898 he began lessons at the Swansea School of Art and was awarded the ‘Gold Star’ of the Royal Drawing Society. Following this award from the Society, the artist George Frederic Watts became a great admirer of Brian’s talent and began to take a keen interest in his development.
Brian Hatton continued to paint and entered his work in many exhibitions and continued winning medals. In 1903, when he was sixteen years of age, he went down to Cornwall and spent some time in the Carbis Bay area, which was home to many English artists, such as Norman Garstin and Stanhope Forbes. It offered Hatton a chance to study their work and let them see his portfolio. Although they congratulated him on his portrayal of the sea and his other favourite subject, horses, they felt that he needed to better his landscape work.
My final offering today (above) is an elegant pencil and wash drawing, which Brian Hatton completed in 1911. It is a portrait of Lydia May Bidmead, who later became Mrs Brian Hatton. Lydia May, known to her friends as Biddy, was a dancer, talented teacher and performer. This pencil drawing brings out the sophisticated grace of his wife-to-be with its fine pencil lines and rosy watercolour capturing her elegant beauty. Lydia May Bidmead was married to Brian Hatton by soldier’s licence on 5th November 1914. Their daughter Mary was born the following year.
In my next blog I will conclude the life story of Brian Hatton and look at two of his works which I saw when I visited the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery last weekend.