Skipton's artist's watercolours are donated to town's Craven museum

Craven Herald: Collections officer Martin Wills with some of the paintings Collections officer Martin Wills with some of the paintings

Sixteen paintings by Skipton-born watercolour artist Arthur Reginald Smith have been donated to Craven Museum and Gallery.

They were gifted to the Skipton museum by Surrey man Geoffrey Lawrence through the Art Fund.

Mr Lawrence. who had collected the watercolours over 35 years, wanted the paintings to stay together in one collection and felt the council-run museum was the perfect location as the artist was born in Skipton and the paintings mainly depicted scenes from around the Yorkshire Dales.

“We are very grateful to Mr Lawrence for this incredibly generous donation and hope to have a selection of the paintings on display at the start of next year,” said Martin Wills, the museum’s collections and interpretations officer. “We are also incredibly grateful for the Art Fund, who assisted us greatly with receiving this donation.”

Coun Ken Hart, Craven District Council’s lead member for culture, added: “I hope these paintings will inspire people to go and visit the many beautiful scenes throughout Craven and the Yorkshire Dales.

“Arthur Reginald Smith was a great talent, and it is fantastic to have so many examples of his work in a local public gallery.”

Mr Smith was born in Skipton in 1871 and had a keen interest in art from a very early age. Despite working by day as an elementary school teacher, he studied art at Keighley School of Art during the evening and at the age of 30 gained a place in the Painting School of the Royal College of Art.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.

During the First World War, he served in the Artists Rifles and, after being demobbed, returned to Yorkshire and found inspiration painting around his home in Grassington.

His life came to a tragic end in 1934 when he drowned 40 metres from where the Strid meets the River Wharfe. He was painting there, but it is still unclear as to how or why he ended up in the river.

The donated paintings include some of the artist’s most famous works, including Early Spring – The Wharfe in Flood, By the Wharfe, Wharfedale and The Bridge at Foxup, 1904.

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